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good speaker cable
CSMR
post Jan 10 2005, 23:51
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I want good speaker cable but not hugely expensive, sub $50. Needs bare wire ends for the equipment I will be using with it. With audiophile cables I get the impression not much of the money goes into the cable. I'm not asking for discussion, which would probably break the rules, but would welcome suggestions.
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Triza
post Jan 11 2005, 00:12
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Simple thick, say, 13-15 Amper power cable will do. Just make sure you use one with different colored wires so you do not mix up the wiring.

I dare to say that all audiophile would fail a speaker cable blind test and could not tell the difference between the power cable and their gold plated nonsense cable. But I have no evidence just common sense.

Triza

This post has been edited by Triza: Jan 11 2005, 00:13
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CSMR
post Jan 11 2005, 00:32
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Thanks. Where do you buy this power cable from? Does it come shielded? I don't know if twisting is important too or just a gimmick.
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RockFan
post Jan 11 2005, 00:34
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QUOTE (CSMR @ Jan 10 2005, 02:51 PM)
I want good speaker cable but not hugely expensive, sub $50. Needs bare wire ends for the equipment I will be using with it. With audiophile cables I get the impression not much of the money goes into the cable. I'm not asking for discussion, which would probably break the rules, but would welcome suggestions.
*


I have a thing about single-core conductors, and DNM are the people for that.

Having said that, I've only used their RCA interconnects (a lot, and very happy with them), but I hear (!) their speaker cable is very good too.

ciao,
R.

edit; link

http://www.dnm.co.uk/cables.html

PS - DNM stuff is not 'audiophile' priced - it's well within the sort of money you mentioned.

Not sure what Triza meant by "power cable". That inludes everything from domestic multi-core flex to solid-core lighting cable. Funnily enough I can remember when people used to experiment with the latter to find out if 'single-core' sounded different.

This post has been edited by RockFan: Jan 11 2005, 01:39
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Triza
post Jan 11 2005, 01:33
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QUOTE (CSMR @ Jan 10 2005, 03:32 PM)
Thanks. Where do you buy this power cable from? Does it come shielded? I don't know if twisting is important too or just a gimmick.
*


You can buy from any stock DIY (or hardware) shop. B&Q or Homebase spring to mind if you are in the UK. Or electronics shops like Maplin. Maybe I should elaborate. "power cord" is what you use to power a power drill or a electronic lawnmower. Ideally you what somethink that has say a 40 or so 0.2 mm threads twisted into one wire and insulated. They are flexible because of the lot of threads. You need two of these wires possibly with different colors for polarity. A lawnmower cable or cable for a 13-15A extension lead has these wires. The only problem I found that most of them has a third wire (ground) you do not want. I personally do not know if you have a problem if you have a unused 3rd wire. But you may find one with 2 wires. One thing is sure that mid level professional speaker cables I saw look exactly like that. Some are made of oxigen-free copper, but so far I read some reviews where audiofiles failed ABX an pro cable with a power cable and frankly I believe that. I am an electrical engineer and although some of this stuff faded away in my memory I find it hard to believe that all that hocus-pocus make a difference indeed when you have to transfer 20kHz wide signal 2-3 meters away. So no there is no need for shielding and twisting. In fact you cannot see them in some mid-range cables I looked at recently either.
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RockFan
post Jan 11 2005, 03:43
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Triza mentioned that multi-core is flexible, and implicltly robust, and this is worth bearing in mind.

Lighting flex (solid core, for house wiring) isn't flexy, it has to be bent to shape.

DNM cable is flexible because the core is very thin, but this means it will 'work-harden' and get brittle if it's treated brutally.

I have to say, I've long since disabused myself of the idea that the thicker a speaker cable (or any kind of connector) the better. Quite the reverse is true, but the ideal depends on the length of the cable and the power it's going to carry.

Whatever, the only reason for using 'monster' cable is not having to worry about someone tripping over it and snapping it.

But in a domestic setup, even with a BIG (x100 watt) amp, multi-core cables that look like they could take 10's of amps of mains current are doing the signal no good at all.

ciao,
R.
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RockFan
post Jan 11 2005, 03:51
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Can I just make a point here; multi-core and single core are *measurably* different, whether or not they affect the sound, used for a speaker cable or whatever..

Multi-core has considerably more capacitance than single-core. Period.

ciao,
R,
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mithrandir
post Jan 11 2005, 04:41
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I went to Lowe's (US national hardware chain) and got speaker cable cut off of a tremendous spool they had. The spool must have held several hundred meters of cable. The cable was 16 gauge, clear plastic and it only cost like 13 or 16 cents a foot...and it was labeled "speaker cable", not lamp wire.

I only need 5 feet runs to connect my speakers to my amp, so how much difference is cable going to make with such a short length? I'll pocket the savings.
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cabbagerat
post Jan 11 2005, 13:44
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QUOTE (RockFan @ Jan 10 2005, 06:43 PM)
I have to say, I've long since disabused myself of the idea that the thicker a speaker cable (or any kind of connector) the better. Quite the reverse is true, but the ideal depends on the length of the cable and the power it's going to carry.
*

I disagree. Sure "thicker is better" isn't a great rule for speaker cable, but the reverse "thinner is better" is not any better - probably a great deal worse.

QUOTE (RockFan @ Jan 10 2005, 06:51 PM)
Can I just make a point here; multi-core and single core are *measurably* different, whether or not they affect the sound, used for a speaker cable or whatever..
*

This one is true, multi core does measure differently from single core. I can measure it in the lab, but I can't hear the difference. The best reason to go with multi core is that it's flexible and much less likely to break.
QUOTE (mithrandir @ Jan 10 2005, 07:41 PM)
I only need 5 feet runs to connect my speakers to my amp, so how much difference is cable going to make with such a short length? I'll pocket the savings.
*

I doubt it will have any audible effect whatsoever. Unless you are driving an extremely high current sub, any wire over 16 gauge should do the job perfectly.
I really like Rod Elliot's "The Truth About Cables":
The Truth About Cables
These two are also worth a read:
http://sound.westhost.com/cablewhitepaper.htm
http://sound.westhost.com/cable-z.htm

If you want cheap shielded cable, go to the builder's supply and get three core armoured earth cable designed for exterior or buried cables. Cheap as dirt and generally well made.


--------------------
Simulate your radar: http://www.brooker.co.za/fers/
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RockFan
post Jan 11 2005, 14:24
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QUOTE (cabbagerat @ Jan 11 2005, 04:44 AM)
[
I disagree. Sure "thicker is better" isn't a great rule for speaker cable, but the reverse "thinner is better" is not any better - probably a great deal worse.


*


That's kind of argument for argument's sake CR. I didn't say 'thinner is better'.

You agree, cables of different gauge and construction are measurably different, particularly in terms of capacitance, but also inductance and every other specific characteristic.

You might insist on an ABX to determine whether this affects the sound (which it must, whether ot not one is 'better' than another), but I'm inclined, after several decades of tinkering with audio equipment, to prefer thin single-core.

ciao,
R.

PS - you say you can't hear the difference. Have you posted your ABX results here? And you do know that in science you can't prove a negative?

This post has been edited by RockFan: Jan 11 2005, 14:27
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CSMR
post Jan 11 2005, 14:58
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Thanks. The single-core article referred to magnetic forces, but aren't they negated by the balanced nature of speaker cables?
I have some cheap 16 guage monster cable, which I could use. I wouldn't be unhappy using it, but would prefer to upgrade it at least a little. 14ft or 4ft in total should be enough, depending on whether I use my current speaker cable in my new system. (I will be attaching a headphone adapter between the amp and the speakers.)
(Re: shielding. I suppose that's more to stop signal getting out than interference getting in. Since I won't have any interconnects, I don't suppose I'll need it.)

This post has been edited by CSMR: Jan 11 2005, 15:01
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2Bdecided
post Jan 11 2005, 15:11
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Quad (respected English hi-fi company) use standard mains power cable for their speaker demos. Totally against all "audiophile wisdom" but thankfully they don't care about that. They do care about sound, so it can't be bad.

I'd suggest using a single mains cable (which will consist of two or three conductors, each conductor being single or multi core) and use one entire cable for each connection, with all conductors shorted together at each end.

Run the pairs (or fours - there's no harm bi-wiring - maybe no good either, but it's so cheap with this cable!) of cable neatly but not twisted or bundled together.

The down side to this is that it could increase interference compared to twisted or very close conductor pairs, but this really should not be an issue with speaker cables.

Of course, YMMV.

mithrandir, the very cheap stuff sold as speaker cable (typically from independent electrical retailers, not hi-fi shops) is (IIRC) measurably not up to the job - the resistance is simply too high over long runs. You could calculate whether 5 feet counts as a "long run" - it would be possible to get some data and calculate the frequency response error due to whatever amp and speakers you have in combination with the cable. It won't be great, but given the cost of mains cable (it's usually similarto this "speaker" wire!) why not use it?

Cheers,
David.
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DonP
post Jan 12 2005, 03:29
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With made-for-speaker cable you can get some convenience advantage. I've got some flat braided which is made for a low profile to run under carpet. IT was not especially expensive, so no snake-oil tax (ie priced for mysterious advantage) involved.
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