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The sound of speaker cables

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Super Wammer

I’m pretty sure one of your early correspondents will have clear views on this. At least one. Think Special K.

Enjoy!

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Super Dealer

One of the tested cables is possibly recognised from the photo as being the much recommended (on here and elsewhere) Van Damme hifi series. 

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What did I learn from this publication. Match cable characteristics to that of speaker. At least no more guess work. No need to buy expensive. Win for both sides of the argument. .:goodone:

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Super Wammer

We could probably have a good guess at what each of the cables is, which might be of interest to some. It would be good to know which cross-section Van Damme was used. The only technical drawback to an otherwise excellent and cost-effective cable is the PVC dielectric.

My understanding of electrickery is limited but I would make the following random points:

  • I thought "transmission line" principles didn't apply at such short lengths
  • 7m is an unusual (atypical) speaker cable length - most folk use 3-5m I would venture
  • He leaves the reader to deduce that Isolda are high capacitance cables, hence early reported problems causing terminal failures in some amps (was it Naim?), hence the network boxes at one end (I believe the other is a dummy)

My own experiences led me to select Isolda over Nordost, Van Damme and others a few years ago. They do something extraordinary at the frequency extremes mainly noticeable as perceived clarity/impact but ultimatle yI realised that this was perhaps an illusion as I was listening louder. Why? Because the midrange was losing out, perhaps. So they audition well, clearly sounding different from other speaker cables, but may not satisfy for long term listening pleasure.

I now have active speakers.

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Super Dealer

‘An excellent example of the misapplication of science in the pursuit of marketing’.

Keith

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Super Dealer
1 hour ago, PuritéAudio said:

‘An excellent example of the misapplication of science in the pursuit of marketing’.

I had to look up the use of single inverted commas to be sure but this is what I got.

"In British English we use single inverted commas for direct speech and double marks to enclose the quote. Example: Mr Smith said, 'I think it was Sarah who said “It was a mistake” more than once. ' In American English you use single quotation marks when direct speech is quoted within another piece of direct speech."

So I assume you are quoting someone. I had a quick internet search but cannot find a source for your quote.

Perhaps it would just be easier if you could explain where or how  the author is misapplying science in his paper? 

Thanks.

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Isn't this just an early, not quite fully resolved, version of an old Zanussi strapline?

Could be worse, mental picture of Keith slapping his hip pocket while brandishing a cheap Chinese DAC accompanied by a 'That's Purite price' jingle... 

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Moderator

There are obvious issues with the 'experiment' from the word go, not the least of which is that cables in the real world will be linking an amplifier and a speaker. A dummy load (as used in the experiment) is fine in the workshop for basic amplifier tests, but says little about real-world performance, because a speaker is not a fixed load. The fundamental difference between impedance and resistance is that the former is frequency dependent. Speakers quote a nominal impedance which varies massively across the frequency spectrum, so it is effecftively impossible to 'match' a cable's effective impedance to that of a speaker because the effective imedance of the speaker is not fixed.

As already mentioned above somewhere, transmission line effects can probably be discounted at audio frequencies and at the cable lengths in a normal domestic setting. However, there is some evidence that many aspects often suggested to have zero influence at audio frequencies (for example skin effect) actually do matter. Then again, the extent of such influences, and therefore whether they are audible, is a different thing.

An ideal cable will not 'match' anything, but will simply have the lowest possible values for inductance, resistance and capacitance. Any of those can and will have effects at audio frequencies. Despite the 'what science says' brigade, actually what science says is that innumerable things may possibly have effects at any frequency, although as already stated, the extent of these (and thus whether there is any audible difference) is as yet unproven. Basically, the jury is out.

And please, no mention of 'blind testing' that is methodologically flawed, because that proves nothing either.

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The problem with 'the truth' about speaker cables is that everyone has their own version of the truth.

These 'truths' rarely take account of what the cables are connected to.

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39 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

I had to look up the use of single inverted commas to be sure but this is what I got.

"In British English we use single inverted commas for direct speech and double marks to enclose the quote. Example: Mr Smith said, 'I think it was Sarah who said “It was a mistake” more than once. ' In American English you use single quotation marks when direct speech is quoted within another piece of direct speech."

So I assume you are quoting someone. I had a quick internet search but cannot find a source for your quote.

Perhaps it would just be easier if you could explain where or how  the author is misapplying science in his paper? 

Thanks.

What was sarah alluding to?  I'm intrigued now..was the mistake not being swayed by the kind but wicked words of the measurements brigade?  Or was the mistake being swayed by their clear logic? And buying a cheap cable hoping for happiness but being disappointed as usual?  

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Super Wammer

‘Thus, at audio frequencies, a cable less than 2,000 ft long is no more complicated than its series resistance and parallel capacitance. As the cable becomes longer, or as frequency increases, the cable will begin to behave as a transmission line.’

From http://audiosystemsgroup.com/TransLines-LowFreq.pdf

I agree with Nigel @TheFlash that the transmission line point is misleading here, and with Keith that it is the misapplication of science.  (I’ll just go back to my 10dB boosted HF via my normal cables!)

Edited by Nopiano
Inverted commas corrected
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1 hour ago, rabski said:

There are obvious issues with the 'experiment' from the word go, not the least of which is that cables in the real world will be linking an amplifier and a speaker. A dummy load (as used in the experiment) is fine in the workshop for basic amplifier tests, but says little about real-world performance, because a speaker is not a fixed load. The fundamental difference between impedance and resistance is that the former is frequency dependent. Speakers quote a nominal impedance which varies massively across the frequency spectrum, so it is effecftively impossible to 'match' a cable's effective impedance to that of a speaker because the effective imedance of the speaker is not fixed.

As already mentioned above somewhere, transmission line effects can probably be discounted at audio frequencies and at the cable lengths in a normal domestic setting. However, there is some evidence that many aspects often suggested to have zero influence at audio frequencies (for example skin effect) actually do matter. Then again, the extent of such influences, and therefore whether they are audible, is a different thing.

An ideal cable will not 'match' anything, but will simply have the lowest possible values for inductance, resistance and capacitance. Any of those can and will have effects at audio frequencies. Despite the 'what science says' brigade, actually what science says is that innumerable things may possibly have effects at any frequency, although as already stated, the extent of these (and thus whether there is any audible difference) is as yet unproven. Basically, the jury is out.

And please, no mention of 'blind testing' that is methodologically flawed, because that proves nothing either.

Richard, how does skin effect manifest? Is it a contributing factor in the reactance of the cable or is there more to it?

In fairness, the dummy load does attempt to model the variation in impedance of a “typical” speaker - granted different speakers will exhibit different impedance variation across the audio spectrum but it looks like a reasonable representation of a 2way speaker and it makes the test reproducible.

I am however puzzled by the characteristic impedance of the cables quoted in the paper - they are orders of magnitude higher than I would expect; typically in the bass region, you might allow 0.2 ohms for calculating an effective Qes in a box simulation. I have done impedance sweeps on a 5m length of cable, using an 8ohm resistor as a dummy load. After subtracting the impedance of the resistor (which was flat from 20Hz to 20kHz at very close to the quoted 8ohms) the impedance of the cable was pretty much flat at 0.2 ohms across the frequency range albeit with some increase in the top octave, although I doubt that it would have any audible consequence.

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Moderator

Without my cables, my silences are inky black all of the time.

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Super Wammer

And you stop tripping over .

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