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Speaker Cable Upgrade?

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by eatstatic, Jul 14, 2004.

  1. eatstatic

    eatstatic
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    Speaker Cable Upgrade?

    I am looking to up-grade my cables but I am unsure what route to take.

    I am using a Denon 2900 and Denon 3802 through mission 7 series speakers.
    The cable I am looking to upgrade is to the front speakers (Mission 773e) for CD playback. Types of music that will be played will be very varied but a good deal of it will be guitar orientated so overly bright sounding cable will not really be favourable for me.

    Had been considering the QED Silver Anniversary Bi-Wire but had been told that this cable could possibly be a bit bright sounding. Anyone got any views/feedback on this.

    Any other cable recomendations in the £10 -20 p/m region.

    Also read a little on using 'jumper-cables' using a higher spec stereo cable and then running another cable from the banana plugs to another set (Is that right?). Does this give the same results as Bi-wiring?
    Has anyone got any comments on going down this route? Also has anyone been able to compare standard Bi-wire set-up against the jumper cable solution and is there any discernible audible differences in between the two?

    Any feedback on the matter would be much appreciated.

    eatstatic.
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Always a topic that brings out plenty of varying opinions!

    If you're using very cheap cables currently,then upgrading the cables may well produce a worthwhile improvement,and the QED range are obviously very popular,and reasonably well balanced.
    I don't think that you'd find the one you mentioned to be over bright when partnered with a Denon 3802,which has a reasonably smooth sound.

    You could also have a look at Kimber's cheapest cable,the 4PR and 8PR,which come in at just around the top of your budget/metre.
    Others to consider include Van Den Hul,Chord,Ixos etc.

    As to biwiring,the results vary according to speaker and amps,and many people would say the best results are to be had from buying single runs of better quality cable,rather than dual runs of lower quality.
    I'd certainly go for that solution initially,although I do use Kimber 8TC biwired cables for my system,and it does work very well with B&W's.

    Jumpers can also produce a similar benefit,but do bear in mind that some of the finest manufacturers( Wilson Audio being a good example) regard biwiring as a fad,and don't even offer biwiring/multiwiring terminals as an option.

    In short....try a good single run of cable first.
     
  3. bobbypunk

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    I'd recommend QED XTUBE XT350 for £15 p/m with airloc plugs and then use a very short length with spades one end and standard airloc the other to use as jumpers.
    The XT350 is an XTUBE version of the silver anniversary.
    This would certainley outdo silver anniversary biwire and be cheaper than bi-wiring with XT350!!!
     
  4. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Cables don't sound - IMHO. Get a 4 or 6mm2 speaker cable (copper) and you will be fine.
     
  5. andrewmellor

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    Good advice Reiner:)
    I could have saved myself a few quid before I got myself 30mtrs anniversary if I'd taken more advice from my electronics geezer at work, I am happy with the cable, it looks great as well, but wouldn't want to put money up in a blind 'pepsi' challenge against some decent section copper speaker cable;)
    Regards Andrew
     
  6. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    You have to wonder about spending anything more than £2/m with your speakers. Not being funny, as they are good speakers but for the sort of money some people would recommend, you'd be better off upgrading the speakers and using mains flex (I know, I know). But it's true.
     
  7. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Just to add my backing to what steve says, there really is nothing to tell between the types of speaker cable you're talking about here, also (and more importantly) there's nothing to tell between them and some mains flex. I have done the blind testing advocated by steve in another thread and I honestly could not tell them apart.

    Think very seriously before you spend that much money, hell, even try some mains cable yourself (it won't cost more than a couple of quid). If you want to see some real improvement in performance have a think about making some Cat5 cable youself. Just finished mine, cost was £15 for 2x3m biwire pairs including nylon braiding and heatshrink. I can't imagine I would have heard an improvement spending 5 or 6 times this (thats what the cable I replaced cost any way, and it wasn't as good).

    Owain
     
  8. JIT

    JIT
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    Would there be any point therefore in me changing from Cable-Talk 3.1 Bi-Wire to QED Silver Anniversary?
     
  9. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    I would say definitely not. If you want a cheap way to find out try blind testing between the cable talk and some twin and earth mains flex. If there's no improvement/detriment from that then I doubt you'd get any benefit from the Silver Anniversary.

    The Cat5 cable mentioned in other posts would be a deifferent matter though, possibly.

    Owain
     
  10. JIT

    JIT
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    Could you give me some more information about your Cat 5 cable please?
     
  11. marck

    marck
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    Have a listen to the various Transparent cables and you WILL hear a difference - not cheap, but a very worthwhile upgrade.
     
  12. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    This is info that I have gathered from various sites around (I'll put some links at the end) and is by no means my own idea - just not that creative I'm afraid ;).

    There are lots of ways of making speaker cable out of cat5 network cable. The original idea seems to be tnt audio's FFRC (full frequency range cable). This Italian site shows a way of using inexpensive network cable to make speaker cable which is better than commercial stuff costing 10 times the price.

    The way I made mine is as follows:

    Ingredients

    20m Low Smoke Zero Halogen Cat5 cable from Maplin (order code VB20W ) £8.92

    2x 5m lengths black Nylon braided cable sleeving from cpc (order code CB0097366) £7.42 +VAT and delivery

    5m F 130 Heatshrink Sleeving from Maplin (order code PB27E) Not sure on price ***EDITED I put the wrong product code on before :blush: ***

    12 banana plugs (ones from existing cable)

    Method

    The idea for this cable is to braid three lengths of the cat5 cable together, secure this braid at both ends then bare the individual wires it contains and combine these to form the connectors for your speakers.

    Part 1 - Braiding

    Cut the length of cable into 6 equal parts (to make a stereo, biwire pair). This amount (20m) gave me two approx. 3m runs. The cables are fairly rigid but will braid together quite easily, simply plait them like girls do with hair. Secure the three ends together first and work along the length of the cables from there. There may be an easier way of doing this but the method I used was to coil each 3.5m length into a loose bundle, I then used some doubled-over insulating tape to hold this in place but allow the cable to move through the tape. What this does is it stops you getting the three runs of cable tangled all the time (something which becomes very annoying when dealing with 10ft of the stuff!) - the loose coil can give you more cable to work with by pulling some through the insulating tape ring which is holding it in place. Simply pass the coils of cable over and under each other to plait the three together - not too tight that the cable gets kinks in it but not too loose that it comes undone, it's fairly obvious when its right.

    Simply work your way along the length until the whole thing is braided, this will take about 10-15 mins for this sort of length. When you're done secure the end with some more insulating tape to make sure your good work doesn't come undone (it holds fairly well, though).

    Part 2 - Making it usable

    Now that you have braided the cable you'll have three ends of cat5 at each end of your new speaker wire. There are different ways of terminating this but the way I chose is to use one cat5 lead for the treble and two cat5s joined together for the bass.

    Use a stanley knife to carefully bare about 40mm of the cat5, cut through the purple outer jacket but be careful not to go into the individual insulators inside.

    When the purple plastic is gone you'll see that the actual cable is made up of 4 pairs of wires, each pair is comprised of a solid coloured conductor and a white+colour conductor. These pairs are twisted around each other for the whole length of the cable.

    Again there are different ways to do this but I used all the solid-coloured conductors for positive (red) and all the white+colour conductors for negative (black). This makes it easier to see what's going on.

    Split the twisted pairs apart and group the solid coloured ones together and the white+colour ones together. Carefully use a wires strippers to bare about 2-3cm of copper from each of the conductors. They stripped very cleanly with the 0.5mm diameter hole on my wire strippers. Be careful not to be too aggressive and cut through the copper and don't catch any of the other conductors in the strippers - I did both of these things and it's incredibly annoying, you have to start again, baring more of the cable and cutting away lots of hard work :mad:

    When you've bared all the conductors in the first cable gently twist the four solid coloured ones together, then the four white+colour ones. This will be the end which goes into the high frequency inputs of your speakers.

    Now repeat this with the other two cat5 ends you have at this end of the speaker cable, but this time twist all 8 solid colour ones and all 8 white+colour ones together. This will be the positive and negative conductors to the bass inputs on your speakers

    Move upto the other end of the speaker cable now, this time you're going to connect all three cables together, all the solid coloured conductors together and all the white+colour conductors. This will be the end which plugs into your amp.

    You could stop here and just plug these into you equipment, and that's not a bad idea. If you want to finish them off completely then follow these last steps:

    Part 3 - Finishing

    To hide the hideous purple colour and make the cables more professional-looking use the braided sleeve to cover them, this goes on more easily than I expected, the stretchy nature allows it to slip quite easily over the braid of cat5. when the cable is covered and the braided sleeve is pulled tight to make it hug the cat5 trim the ends so that about 4-5cm of cat5 is showing.

    Tape around the loose end of the nylon sleeving (it tends to fray very easily when it's been cut so do this as soon as yo can). Then slide about 5cm of the heatshrink over the whole lot. Use a hairdrier or heatgun to shrink this down and get a good grip.

    You can now terminate the ends with banana plugs or spades.

    There you go, two 3m stereo pairs of biwire for less than £25, very professional looking but, more importantly, the equal of many other more expensive cables. The cost would be proportionatly less for longer runs too, each extra metre would only add about £1.20, less if you bought a larger quantity of cat5 - it goes down to 30p/m if you buy a job lot (i.e. 90p for a metre run of three, braided).

    Links

    TNT Audio
    Venhaus - a LOT more work than the method I used
    CJRoss' excellent diagram showing how to wire these up

    Hope thats some use!

    Owain
     
  13. eatstatic

    eatstatic
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  14. JIT

    JIT
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    owain thomas

    Excellent work, i'll have to re-read all of that before i attempt anything.
     
  15. owain_thomas

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    No problem, hope its helpful. Didn't intend to do all that when I started but just got carried away typing :)

    Let me know if there's anything needs clarifying, I've got some pictures if you want some more pointers.

    regards,
    owain
     
  16. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Nice clear post Owain. I recommend everyone to at least give this a go. You can always save the braiding etc. till later. That's what I did, just built the base cable to see how it worked. Never looked back. I had a lot to make and it came in at £1.40/m which is nice. I did use an extra cable in my front and centre's as the lengths were well over 6m.
     
  17. Jens

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    I was actually looking for best-price-information on QED SA speaker cables when I stumbled upon these DIY-CAT5-projects and now I'm hooked, I just have to try making a few of those instead!

    I've been reading on the Venhaus and the TNT-Audio pages, two somewhat different ways of making the cables. The Venhaus approach seems like (a lot)more work and they also recommend using a CAT5-cable with teflon insulation (Belden 1585A which I suppose is impossible for me to find here in Sweden).

    So, I'm a little bit uncertain on what to do really. As I've understood it, just about everyone here at avforums have gone the TNT-way?
     
  18. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Can't remember where I read it (maybe it was steve or CJRoss) but I recall seeing something about the teflon cable not being worth the extra. As far as pulling the cat5 apart and rebraiding, it seems like an AWFUL lot of work. Obviously I've not compared these two methods, but it'd have to beat the easier method by some way to make that amount of faffing (and bleeding fingers!) worthwhile, it must add a good few hours to the whole thing.

    Let us know what you decide in the end.

    Owain

    PS I'd be quite interested if anyone's actually gone that far and tried it, what do the two types wound like side by side?
     
  19. Chaos Star

    Chaos Star
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    I use mission 702e speakers as part of my front stage and have recently upgraded from budget cable to silver aniversery and am very impressed with the sound - nice and tight and clear (also listen to lots of guitar music)

    I wouldnt bother bi-wiring Ive had my energy accoustics biwired through a stereo amp with cable talk 3.1 - for an experiment I wired them up with single cable talk and to be honest there isnt really any differnce - just a thought to save you some cash :)
     
  20. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Not much to add to Owains extensively researched post above, other than the TNT recipe for FFRc and the link to the picture above are in fact 2 slightly differing recipes that are worth reading up on. http://www.avforums.com/forums/search.php? Polarity (under keywords) And my username, this will take you to a series of posts about CAT5 that describe the differences between the TNT Mode & CC (colour code) mode as pictured in the link above discussed on this forum in the past.

    I see Teflon mentioned - Ive made up Teflon coated FFRCs and Maplins VB20W LSZH coating stuff - no difference to these ears. Cheap cheap speaker cables, where cross sectional areas can be increased to suit for pennies, this and T+E 2.0mm square I would suggest nothing else.

    Power to DIY brothers !! Fight the powers that be (in cabling) !!
     
  21. eatstatic

    eatstatic
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    Cheers, will have a read through info.

    Will be giving a go trying to make my own during Aug.
    Decorating (or supposed to be) at the moment :eek:

    eatstatic
     
  22. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    Yeah, CJ, I think that's an important point. The recipe can be varied to suit your needs. Personally I made my front and centre lead from 4 cat5 cables as they are a good 7m long and I felt the extra copper would be useful. I made a biwire/biamp cable so it's totally flexible if I decide to biamp in the future. Not that I buy into biwiring you understand. I used a pair for each pair of terminals on the speakers with the CC recipe. So I just need to seperate the pairs at the amp end to biamp if I so wish.

    Can't see why anyone would ever buy a commercial speaker cable again. Bit like the building societies who tell us the property market isn't going to crash. Like it's in their interest to tell us it is? Just like the analysts who damned the bears in 1999 as the stock market was going to go up forever.
     
  23. steve_g

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    Hi there

    I have 3 questions regarding cat5 speaker cabling

    - Why do you have to braid the cables together?
    - What is the minimum number of cables you need?
    - Does it have to be cat5 cable or would 3 pair telephone cable do?

    I look forward to your replies

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  24. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    The cables are braided or twisted mainly for convenience I think. The internal twisting does a good job of reducing nasties but I guess a few more twists are OK. I use 4 cables so plaiting is not an option so I twisted them in pairs and then taped all 4 every foot or so.

    The FFRC cable uses 3 cables per speaker ie 24 conductors. I have seen people use 2 cables (16 conductors) for small bookshelf speakers. I myself went for 4 to be safe.

    Cat5 fits a number of requirements of a good speaker cable as it's designed to carry low power signals over long distances. I guess telephone cable would work as long as it's internally twisted. The cat5 is so cheap though that I figured I'c use the right stuff. Unless you are a BT engineer that is and have access to freebies. :devil:
     
  25. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    There's a lot of myth spread about common mode noise reduction, but this isn't applicable to this type of connection (an unbalanced one). As far as I can make out it's simply easier to have the cables joined somehow, if you've got 3 then braiding is the easiest way and looks best. Separate runs should work just as well but would be more cumbersome.

    Depends on the type of cable you make, I've used 3 per run in mine, stereo steve used 4 I think. Others may have tried more. Try 3 as a minimum, add more if you want to.

    never tried it with a different cable but it's meant to be best with the specific cat5 cable mentioned above (the low smoke, zero hydrogen stuff from maplins). I think stereo steve said he tried it with plain cheap pvc insulated cat5 and it wasn't as good, I stand to be corrcted though.

    Owain
     
  26. steve_g

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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    The reason I asked about the telephone cable is because I have a couple of drums, my brother-in-law used to work for Telewest. But I also have some cat5 lying about in the office which I might try and see if there is any difference.

    Thanks again for the prompt response.

    Steve
     
  27. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    I've used plain Cat5 and it sounded great to me. I made up an experimental pair when I was in temporary accomodation while my house was being finished. Made the LSZH ones when I moved in so have not done a direct comparison. The plain cat5 was still much better than any other cable I had lying around.
     
  28. huwg

    huwg
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    Interesting thread...
    quick question on the homemade cat 5 cables.

    If using 4xcat5 cables per speaker, should I use 1 dedicated cable per connection (in a biwire setup) assuming I mark each cable so they don't get mixed up,
    or
    is it still best to separate the solids and stripes?

    My amp has 2 sets of binding posts specifically designed to aid biwiring, so combining them at the amp end isn't essential.

    4 cables can sort of be plaited by bringing the cable from position1 to position2, then pos4 to pos2, pos1 to pos2, pos4 to pos2 etc... the end result is a sort of plait.

    1234
    abcd
    bacd
    bdac
    dbac
    dcba
    cdba
    etc

    Also, if using mains cable as speaker cable, is solid core better than stranded?
    would standard 'flymo' wire work?
     
  29. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Hi Huw,

    Not sure that it matters how you separate out the signals, the only advantage I can see of using solids/stripes is that it is easy to tell visually which is which. Having said that you'll need to mark up the cables any way if they are separated at both ends (instead of commoned at the amp end) so you'd know which was which so I don't suppose it matters. Just be sure to use a multimeter to check it out when they're finished.

    As far as mains cable goes you should definitely use solid core stuff.

    HTH
    Owain
     
  30. Knightshade

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    I tried this about 2 years ago. Used a method similar to Owains method. Very pleased with the result. I still use them on my test system. Haven't heard anything under £50 per mono metre that can touch it.
    Which ever way you do it. Give it a go. You'll be surprised.
    Has anyone tried this with interconnects yet?
     

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