Does tone-arm wire really make a difference? - diyAudio
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Old 23rd April 2010, 01:54 PM   #1
cr0wl3y is offline cr0wl3y  United Kingdom
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Default Does tone-arm wire really make a difference?

Hi there,

I have a pair of Technics SL-1210 MK2 turntables. There is a huge database of mythology about how various add-ons created by various companies can improve the sound quality of these and I was wondering if anyone has any views or experiences on some of this stuff.

I can neither afford nor want the hassle of an external power source and I am already using a decent cartridge so the potential next step for me would be to consider a tone-arm upgrade. These are rather pricey. Moreover, there is a school of thought that suggests that the biggest problem of the Technics arm is the cheap quality wiring in and this has got me thinking that maybe I should try that first.

At first look, the idea sounds like poppycock to me...I am one of those people that make their own interconnects by braiding cheap and cheerful solid core wire and am convinced that it sounds as good as oxygen-free-cryogenically-treated-special-alloy wire in some-near-extinct-animal's-leather sheath. This having read a few things about the theory behind it and having listened (or rather not listened) to the difference between different cables.

Nevertheless, I always like to keep an open mind. So, running the fear of starting up another behemoth of a thread like the "do cables matter" one, can I please ask people's opinions on whether tone-arm wire quality really matters?

Thanks,
Nikos
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Old 23rd April 2010, 05:25 PM   #2
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Well done that man!

These guys that believe that different bits of Copper can possibly conduct electricity in different manners are nuts.

Copper is Copper, end of story.

Oxygen free or not, makes not a single jot of diggerence to it's electrical capabilities.

Have a look at this website;

Elliott Sound Products - DIY Audio Articles

Go down to the Cables section and read some common sense.

This guy has REPEATEDLY challenged manufacturers and idiot showroom "boffins" to prove their points, Re. interconnects, etc. and NOT ONE has managed to do it.

I am not saying, by the way, that you can make decent cables from rubbish wire, but people that buy cables at 100/foot, etc. quite frankly deserve to be robbed.

Don't even get me started on idiots that belive a length of wire can be DIRECTIONAL to an AC signal!!!

Sandy
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Old 23rd April 2010, 08:16 PM   #3
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Nikos: you have seen the polarity in opinions on this topic and the length that sides will go to to defend their position. The only way that you will ever answer this question of yours is to try some different wire in your arm.
The configuration that you choose along with the dielectric and its thickness will have the most impact. Regarding the quality of the conductor that too is a factor though to a lesser degree but since you do not require much the added cost should not be an issue.
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Old 23rd April 2010, 10:06 PM   #4
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Based on my research, it seems that mouse cable is great for a tonearm.

What I believe (based again on my research) is that the shielding of the signal wires from the cartridge to the phono preamp is quite important. So important in fact that I suggest (and plan to implement) a balanced configuration from my (home made) table to my (not yet decided upon, but probably a kit) phono preamp. Likely balanced out from the phono preamp to my regular preamp as well.

I believe, based on what I have read, that keeping noise out of this 'delicate' signal is paramount due to the exceptionally low voltages here, and a balanced connection is a very good way to accomplish this.

As to the wire itself: a good quality copper wire should be excellent. In the tone arm to phono preamp location, I could even justify silver wire for it's slightly lower resistance at the same cross section and length (as compared to copper); however if the length is short (and should be) it will not be a significant improvement. Also, if the connections on the silver wire are not first-rate, corrosion is a problem (more so than with copper for sure!)

long story short: I will be using mouse wire, and a balanced connection scheme. I believe this is the way to go.
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Old 24th April 2010, 12:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Leach View Post
Based on my research, it seems that mouse cable is great for a tonearm.

What I believe (based again on my research) is that the shielding of the signal wires from the cartridge to the phono preamp is quite important. So important in fact that I suggest (and plan to implement) a balanced configuration from my (home made) table to my (not yet decided upon, but probably a kit) phono preamp. Likely balanced out from the phono preamp to my regular preamp as well.

I believe, based on what I have read, that keeping noise out of this 'delicate' signal is paramount due to the exceptionally low voltages here, and a balanced connection is a very good way to accomplish this.

As to the wire itself: a good quality copper wire should be excellent. In the tone arm to phono preamp location, I could even justify silver wire for it's slightly lower resistance at the same cross section and length (as compared to copper); however if the length is short (and should be) it will not be a significant improvement. Also, if the connections on the silver wire are not first-rate, corrosion is a problem (more so than with copper for sure!)

long story short: I will be using mouse wire, and a balanced connection scheme. I believe this is the way to go.
Now here is someone who knows what he's talking about.

Simple no nonsense logic applied with the best audio at it's root.

The only issue I have is with Silver being mentioned.

If you're going down that route, then your might as well have Gold wire?????

At the current handling we're looking at here, Copper is as good as anything else.

Next we'll have some moron stepping in with "skin effect" and the rest of the crap expounded by the audio "Elite".

Keep it simple and all will be well.

People with ordinary ears and ordinary hearing will not hear the slightest difference between wires made of different metals.

If they do, it's because they want to and nothing else.

Make your cables out of Lead! There will be no audible difference.

Sandy
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Old 24th April 2010, 01:08 AM   #6
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Opps!

Sorry Sandy, I'm a skin effect proponant. The thinner the wire, the less the skin effect, that simple. I have rewired a Zeta, and an RS Labs A1. Both showed marked improvement in the midrange focus and clarity with the thinnest wire I could find. 40+ guage. A bitch to work with though.

Nikos, the absolute thinnest wire you can find is the best. Look in your local phone book, find someone that rewires and/or makes transformers. Go and see them, they will likely GIVE YOU the 35+ guage copper wire, it costs them pennies. The only difference between copper/silver is it's resistance. At the near zero amperage levels of a cartridge this is absolutely negligable. The only advantage of silver is that over time silver oxide DOES conduct electricity, other than that there is no difference. The only advantage of gold wire is that it is a non-crystaline metal (I think, hence the notion about zero-crystal wire). Try a couple of different guages, and start experimenting. DO NOT BRAID THE WIRE!!!!. The only reason to braid wire to to help exterminate RFI. Try the non braided first. Listen to the phono section at full volume without the tonearm lowered onto the album. What do you hear, write it down. Now braid the wire, turn the volume up. If there is no difference, than you do not have an RFI issue. If the non-braided version gives you more noise, than you do have to braid. Again that simple. As a reference, Mr. Walker of Walker Audio prefers his tonearm wire to hang in the air, unbraided, but only if RFI is not an issue.

Hope I haven't been too aggressive.

Cousin Billy
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Old 24th April 2010, 01:15 AM   #7
SY is offline SY  United States
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The skin effect thing is pretty much nonsense when it comes to audio. Sorry.

Three things matter:
1. Conductivity- when a cartridge has a source Z of just a couple ohms, there IS a difference using silver interconnect.
2. Shielding- Res ipsa.
3. Balance- the rational way to run a cartridge to preamp interface is balanced, with a high CMR.
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Old 24th April 2010, 01:18 AM   #8
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Uh, jeez Sandy - why not tell us how you really feel.
Why the rant? But hey, I do agree that no exotics need be harmed. =)

The wire does matter. It needs to be flexible, light and not pick up hum or other noise. Can't vouch for mouse wire - looking at mine it seems rather thick and heavy - but can vouch for twisted litz wire. Very flexible and light. Not microphonic. Twisting it keeps the noise low, especially with a balanced input.

Have also seen lavaliere mic cable used. Also very thin, flexible and shielded.
Mogami W2901 is a good example.

Those are the qualities _I_ would look for in a tonearm wire.
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Old 24th April 2010, 01:19 AM   #9
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Sandy: you are entitled to your opinions and you are free to express them along with everybody else. That's the beauty of open discussion forums like this. There is a wealth of experience available and there will always be disagreements and discussion.
I do however object to you describing those who do not think exactly as you do as "nuts" "Boffins" "idiots" and "morons". This is simply a form of passive aggressive intimidation and does nothing to either stimulate open discussion or to impress others regarding your level of expertise. Please refrain form such behavior in your future posts as it adds nothing and only detracts form this thread.
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Old 24th April 2010, 01:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by moray james View Post
Sandy: you are entitled to your opinions and you are free to express them along with everybody else. That's the beauty of open discussion forums like this. There is a wealth of experience available and there will always be disagreements and discussion.
I do however object to you describing those who do not think exactly as you do as "nuts" "Boffins" "idiots" and "morons". This is simply a form of passive aggressive intimidation and does nothing to either stimulate open discussion or to impress others regarding your level of expertise. Please refrain form such behavior in your future posts as it adds nothing and only detracts form this thread.
Point taken but as someone who has been in the electronics industry for 30+ years, I am sick fed up of those who put forward subjective argument without the slightest shred of scientific proof.

I have been an electronics designer and prototyper for many years and believe entirely in solid test evidence, shown on electronic test equipment.

Show me on any form of test equipment that cable "A" is audibly better than cable "B" of similar construction and I will happily eat humble pie.

As I posted earlier, Have a look at the cable articles put forward by Rod Elliot here;

Elliott Sound Products - DIY Audio Articles

No one, absolutely NO ONE has come forward with any evidence that one cable of similar construction is audibly different from any other.

Subjective testing is just that, subjective and as qualitative data is a waste of space.

Sandy.
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