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The Paulinator 25th May 2003 08:59 AM

I don't beleive cables make a difference, any input?
I just posted this reply on another thread and it sparked my interest again in what people believe about the subject. Please read my whole post before you reply. I am not trying to be contentious, so please don't overreact like some people do when I suggest that their expensive cables may not be worth the money.

I am going to very mild-mannerdly make the statement that I have come to my own personal conclusion that speaker wire matters to the sound quality of your speakers about as much as a big pile of baked beans.

I used to be a beleiver. I THOUGHT I heard such undeniable differences between various speaker cables and interconnects, until one day I was doing a comparison between a 1 meter, 500 dollar cable and a 25 foot Radio Shack gold series cable. i listened to my favorite tracks with the Radio Shack cable, and then got up to swap the cables. In one of those weird brain farts, I changed CD's as usual, but without realizing it, forgot to go back to the expensive cable.

I sat down and listened to track after track, amazed at the better sound quality of the better cables that I, in fact, hadn't even hooked up. The highs were smoother, the bass was tighter, and the mids were more natural sounding. When I went up to change CD's, I realized my mistake. Dumbfounded, I shuddered at the thought that all the money i had put into cables might be wasted. I went back and did the most open-minded, honest listening of my life. Being for the first time in doubt of the importance of good cables, I wanted to reassure myself that my money was well spent. I listened for literally hours. Replaying tracks and litening to each individual part, each instrument, over and over again. I listened for improvements in soundstage, clarity, definition, anything that might prove my money was well spent. I wanted to hear a difference, but for the first time, I opened my ears to both cables. I didn't want to hear a difference so badly that I pretended to, or told myself that I heard a difference. I really wanted to know.

I had come to the conclusion that I couldn't hear a difference.... at least at the moment. I decided to try to prove that a difference could be heard somehow, maybe just not by me. I was at the time a salesperson at a respectable audio boutique where we were absolutely obsessed with cables. We put more emphasis on cables than on the equipment itself, mostly because we felt that it didn't matter what equipment you got if your interconnects were going to ruin it. For fun, I took a few employees into a room and sat them in front of a pair of Energy Veritas Floorstanding Speakers (2.8's I believe, the older, GOOD ones), running off of an Adcom stack. I showed them the two cables and asked them to tell me which sounded better. I first played the "low end" cables and listened to my fellow employees reem them for their lack of detail, soundstage, their harsh highs, and the other usual retorts. I then went behind the stack and unplugged the RS cables, so my colleagues could hear the "switch", and then put the same cables back in again. I played the same track again. Suddenly the highs were smoother, and the bass had this great power that it had lacked before. The soundstage was HUGE.....according to my subjects. After I hit stop, I notified the group of my plot. This was first met by silence, and then every single one of them left the room pissed at me, accusing me of trying to bring down the sales of the store.

After this experience I have tried numerous times to see if anyone can hear a difference between cables. I of course now do it without tricks. I simply don't reveal the good from the bad until after the subject had stated which demo they thought was using the high end cables. I think a cable costing 500 dollars of even just a few hundred should sound significantly better than a 20 dollar cable, enough that you should recognize it everytime in a blindfolded test. Never has anyone gotten 5 out of 5 in my tests.

I hear that Richard Clark does a test like this at autosound 2000 and nobody has ever gotten a perfect score. He is also a disbeleiver in the need for high end cables.

I encourage people to take their high end cables and have someone do a blindfolded test on them with some radio shack specials.

Remember the story of The Emperor's new clothes, and don't feel bad or left out if you don't hear a difference. Nobody ever seems to under these conditions.

I'd be happy to hear anyone's input on the subject.

slowmotion 25th May 2003 09:36 AM

Hi Paulinator


I am going to very mild-mannerdly make the statement that I have come to my own personal conclusion that speaker wire matters to the sound quality of your speakers about as much as a big pile of baked beans.

My personal opinion is that all things you do to your system matter,
cables included. To me, in my system, most cables sound different
from each other, some "better", some "worse". ;)

I am not a "believer" when it comes to cables, though.
I usually use what I have on hand at the moment,
good or bad, the difference is not big enough
to loose any sleep over it. :rolleyes:

I'm not a "believer" in "controlled tests" either, by the way,
they certainly don't work for me, it's hard to listen to the
music if one has to consentrate on differences between cables.

cheers ;)

jnxw2 25th May 2003 09:44 AM

Good post
Yeah ive got to be honest ive never heard any difference between cables, either interconnects or speaker cable and that includes the bog standard freebie interconnects you get with new equipment, but i guess that could be because after years of being around airplanes my ears just dont work as they should anymore :)



mrfeedback 25th May 2003 09:58 AM

Yes, Cables Do Matter.
Yes, I have a young friend who is formally studying film and sound production at college.
I gave him a pair of 12-pair cables described in my post above.
He performed a BLT to his lecturers, comparing the original speaker cables (unknown type) to the 12-pair cables in the college mixdown studio.
All lecturers present much preferred the telephone cable, and so much so that it is now standard equipment in all the studios at the college.
This cable costs around AUS$2.00 per metre, so cost is not part of the equation.
Other similar comparison tests have given the same result.
Cable electrical values are important with most amplifiers and speakers, and can and do cause differing sonics.



Circlotron 25th May 2003 10:13 AM

My speaker wires (actual conductor diameter) is about 3.5 mm tinned copper, stranded, black insulation, separate wires twisted with a drill to about a 2 inch pitch. Handles 50 watts per channel. Length is about 2 metres and 3 metres. Cost = zero because I found a discarded 1000 metre drum of it. I can't imagine anything noticeably better, so for me ignorance is bliss.

If you really want to go nuts with speaker wire, go to your local electrical wholesaler and have a look at some welding cable. 90 square mil cable for example has a total conductor diameter of about *3/4 inch*, :cool: individual stands are about 0.2 mm so there are lots of them. Available in at least red & black. Not sure of the exact cost but probaby about 1/10 that of name brand speaker cable. Just the thing for the sound system in your Hummer.

The things the sales blurb talk about like characteristic impedance of the cable etc are real but at audio frequencies need cables many kilometres long to have any effect.

The bottom line is I *would* use fancy speaker cables if they were priced sensibly because I like things that are made of nice materials like teflon, gold, ofc, etc because they have real aesthetic appeal, but beyond that, I don't buy 99% the claims made for them.

ThorstenL 25th May 2003 11:01 AM

Re: I don't beleive cables make a difference, any input?


Originally posted by The Paulinator
I just posted this reply on another thread and it sparked my interest again in what people believe about the subject. Please read my whole post before you reply. I am not trying to be contentious, so please don't overreact like some people do when I suggest that their expensive cables may not be worth the money.

You as so many others make a fundamental, causal mistake.

You mix up two questions into one and then proceed to use evidence on one of the questions to answer the other.

Question One is:


The simple answer is "YES!".

Question Two is:


The simple answer is "More often than not, NO!"

Once we have untangled the mixing of the actual pricing and marketing of cables by the High End Industry from that of basic audibility we can proceed. But before we do, another besic truth:


What this means is simply that really good things are rarely cheap, but high sales price is not a reliable indicator that something is "good".

Now, on to the subject of Blind Testing, using VERY small sample numbers. To put it simple, due to the basic nature of statistics such tests using a small sample size (few listeners) and looking for comparably small and possibly debatable differences are inherently invalid. Read why with regards to the statistical side here:

The Highs & Lows of Double-Blind Testing - Stereophile 1985

More material covering the implementation and results, plus criticism of a number of blind listening tests also in Stereophile:

Blind Listening - An Amplifier test in 1989

An Amplifier Listening Test - A critique of the listening test above

God is in the Nuances - A lengthy "paradigm" Article, including a lengthy discussion of a DBT done in Germany using a fairly large sample size and good implementation

So, if we actually disentangle the three components here, namely:

The DBT Conspiracy (conspircay because after being shown mathematical proof fo the inadequacy of their methodes they continued to use them and to loudly proclaim and publish results from such test as "proof of audibility [or not]) perpetrated by certain people on the primary grounds that they could not afford (morally and moinetarily) true High End gear and colluded to proove that cheap stuff was as good by questionable pseudo-scientific methodes.

The High End Industry which in the face of such continued attack went from strength to strength in the same time the DBT Conspirators attacked it vigerously (to oppose something is to strengthen it), with great publicity and to the clear contradiction of the perception of a substantial minority of people interested in high performance audio, the result being an extremely vertical market where the most expensive gear costs obscene amounts of money and few performance benefits from research filter "down" into affordable gear.

The actual audibility or nor ot the actual preferability or not of a given "feature" in audio gear, which has largely become a casualty of the prolonged trenchwarefare between "subjectivists" and "objectivists".

I leave it to the discerning reader to draw their own conclusion and urge them to form their own opinions, best based on direct, personal experience, rather than on propaganda issuing from whatever quarter it may issue from.


Salas 25th May 2003 01:25 PM

just listen

Just exchange a pair of random cables in any system and listen for a few notes. If you can here no difference abandon this hobby.
It would be great not to sound different but they do. Everything counts in large amounts in a sound system when we listen half critically. Match valves, match circuits, dial out cables by synergy, dont spend huge cash on them. Still they do intervene and it is very easy to listen to.



KevinLee 25th May 2003 02:12 PM


If you do not believe that cables make a difference then it would only be logical that you probably also believe that a $99.00 CD player sounds the same as a $1000.00 CD player. (Using the same tricky listening test you described in your initial post)

The truth is, if you hook a $1000.00 CD player to your amp with a $2.00 interconnect, it probably will sound like a $99.00 player.

Either you are a not as open minded as most of the DIYers on this forum or you have sub standard hearing.

Either way I suppose yourself and Richard Clark suffer from the same affliction.

I truly believe that everything influences sound in your system right from the CD player all the way to the speaker. I also believe that things like ridgity of stands, damping of equipment & room acoustics affect the sound.

Just my thoughts & personal view.


Fusor 25th May 2003 02:56 PM

I'm lucky to have a huge spool of 24 gauge silver plated wire-wrap wire that I got at a surplus sale. I make multi-strand cables that to me sound better than hardware store 16 gauge 'zip' cable. But I sure wouldn't buy the $$$$$ cables advertised and lauded in Stereophile magazine. [they won't let me A/B test them at the local high end shop]

Bob Brines 25th May 2003 03:03 PM

Yes, cable make a difference.
Of course, it all depend on what is on either end of the cable, but let me give you a specific exampe. I built a pair of ML-TL's using Fostex FE167E drivers. Going from 16ga RS speaker wire to 24ga magnet wire improved the bass, smoothed out some edginess, and generally improved the speaker's balance.

OK, why? Well, in this implementation, the speaker has a small, but significant rising response. The thin wires add just enough additional resistance to straighten out the response. Also, the increase in resistance raises the effective Qts of the driver and increases the bass output slightly.

Now, the same result could have be accomplished by placing a small resistor in series with the driver, but that is not the point. You have to know your equipment.


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