I think I'm ready to start my first DIY project

Well, I have a few more paychecks to wait until I can afford some of the paradigm speakers I want (Studio/40 fronts, Studio/CC center, and Studio/20 for rears) so I thought I would make some speaker wire for them in the waiting time using the CAT 5 method: http://www.venhaus1.com/diycatfivecables.html

The reviews of this method (from the previous link and this forum) seem to be positive. Of course being the skeptic that I am, I have a few questions and concerns.

The site mentions that "While the high capacitance is virtually a non-factor as far as sonics go, it MAY be a problem for unstable amplifiers and cause them to oscillate. This can be mitigated by NOT using very long lengths of cable (>8 ft.), and making sure your amp isn't one of the few that are unstable into high capacitance loads.

The above statement puts two thoughts into my head. Firstly, does/has anyone ran this type of wire from a Pioneer Elite receiver? Currently I'm thinking this is the receiver I'm going to buy: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/Pioneer/CDA/HomeProducts/HomeProductDetails/0,1422,71335,00.html I found that receiver for $890 online at brandnamez.com.

Secondly, if I run the CAT 5 speaker cable in short lengths to my left, right, and center channels, what do I do about my sorrounds? I would think it would be best to be consistent throughout the setup but the longer lengths of cable required for sorrounds makes me nervous.

Overall I have to say I have learned a tremendous amount lurking these forums over the past weeks. Lots of great info on everything from why bi-wiring isn't the best thing to making your own interconnects. Thaks a lot again guys.
 
Cheap Cable....

12 or 20 pair indoor telephone cable works rather better than Cat-5 - more copper and different insulation.
I would use 12 pair for L/C/R and 6 pair for the rears.
Despite the warnings I have had no amplifiers go wrong with these cables (excepting Naim amps but these are a special case).
Indoor telephone cable is cheap too.
Metal recyclers are a good source for just about free.

Eric.
 
I second mrfeedback on using the indoor phone cable. I've been using it for years and have never had a problem with any of the amplifers I used it with, sounds good too.

Who's been moving audio around with wires longer that the "Phone Company". Think about the distance they move signals and the fact it sounds as good as it does on the other end.

Later
Bruce :geezer:
 
I've made cables from CAT5 netwrk cable and I have to say they work quite well.

Although your point about the phone companies is a good one, don't forget that the range of frequencies down the phone lines are limited (the phone company filter out high and low stuff that they deem not necessary).

DIY at it's best is making something for very little money that works well - these cables are a case in point.

Also another place to find cheap CAT5 cables is from network installers who have offcuts from large reels that they quite often would throw away otherwise.

Hope this helps.

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;)
 
Corn-Picker,

I've made the CAT5 cables you're looking at. The difference is very subtle, at least with the mid-fi reeiver I am using now. I expect the difference will be more noticeable once I finish my Zen V4 monoblocks.

I wouldn't worry about the capacitance. Any amp that becomes unstable driving that amount of capacitance isn't worthy anyway. ;)

About CAT5 versus phone cable: CAT5 has much lower inductance and higher bandwidth, which is the whole reason for building these cables to begin with. Phone cable will work fine, but probably won't sound a whole lot better than zip cord.

Keep in mind that standard CAT5 cable doesn't have the teflon insulation that you want for these cables - you need to find plenum-grade CAT5. I had the supplier check with the manufacturer to ensure that the cable I used had teflon insulation.

As for your surrounds, I wouldn't suggest trying to use these cables, as the amount of work would be absolutely mind-blowing :bawling: (see below).

Which brings me to my final point... Be prepared for a LOT of work! :bigeyes: Especially if you go with the full 27 pair cables, as I did. Be prepared for long nights of braiding and sore hands. It takes a while to get the hang of it, and get the braiding tight and consistent.

Still, it's a great project, especially during the winter when there isn't much else to do. :eek:
 
I have used both Cat5 and phone cable. Is the Cat5 better? Maybe a little. Are they both better than zip cord? You bet, and it's not hard to hear the difference.

As for the difference between Cat5 and phone cable, well the extra work to braid the Cat5 just isn't worth it to me. With the phone cable just make sure that one half of each twisted pair is + and the other is -.

As for the frequency response, the 20 foot, 25 pair phone cable I've tested is flat past 100kHz. into an 8 ohm resistive load and shows good square waves to 30kHz. at least with my test setup. Just so you know thats all the test equipment will do. (cheezy generator)

Later
Bruce:geezer:
 
"About CAT5 versus phone cable: CAT5 has much lower inductance and higher bandwidth,"
Yeah right - are you sure that you understand what you are talking about ?. :rolleyes:
CP, to use the 6, 12,20 or 25 pair cable, strip the sheath back 4 inches or so, fan out all the colour/white pairs, seperate the pairs neatly into two groups according to white or colour, and with a piece of cloth stroke and straighten all these wires neatly, and mark a strip length on each wire with a black marker pen.
Strip all the wires, and then taking all the wires of one group, carefully fom these wires into a single round twisted group, and then take a pair of large pliers and twist the exposed wires neatly and trim to length with sharp cutters, and repeat this process for the other group (and ends) - soldering together the ends is optional.
For 20 pair this will give a conductor diameter of about 4mm - this is plenty of copper conductance, even really high power systems.
With practice you can do 4 20 pr ends in 30 minutes or so.

CP, the thing happening here is that you have 20 nicely closely twisted pairs in parallel, so the total series inductance of a 20 pair cable is 1/20th the inductance of a single pair - in other words virtually zero inductance, and close to perfect individual pair balancing so any RF/noise pickup is minimal.
According to theory a single pair exhibits a characteristic impedence of around 150 ohms or so, so a 25 pair would likely have a characteristic impedence of around 6 ohms.
Bruce, are you able to confirm this for us ?.
In my experience (and Bruces ?), 20/25 pair cable gives is a really good, deep, solid, clean, fast, and just plain nice resultant with most amps and speakers and the result is not subtle WRT to other cables.
Indoor phone cable comes in a nice buff coloured round sheath that is unobtrusive visually, is fine for long runs, and can be painted over in permanent installations, and is cheap (Double Big WAF !).
Visually, practicality and effort wise, I think the Plaited cat5 idea is a huge waste of time.
I would try the 12/20/25 pair first, and then you have a reference.

Eric.
 
YA, :smash: ,What mrfeedback said.:up: No :flame: intended. I have been using phone cable for years and haven't heard anything enough better to get me to replace it. In fact most stuff doesn't sound as good.

As for impedance: I measured a 25 pair 18 foot cable at 7 ohms with a TDR. I don't say that this makes any difference but it is interesting.

Later
Bruce:geezer:
 
mrfeedback said:
Yeah right - are you sure that you understand what you are talking about ?. :rolleyes:

I think your choice of words could have been a little more diplomatic. :redhot:

If you think CAT5 doesn't have greater bandwidth than phone cable... Try pushing 1Gb/s of data through your phone cable. CAT5e is rated at 350MHz. I haven't done any measurement, but I'll bet the inductance is significantly lower on the CAT5 with teflon insulation. Now, whether or not the difference is audible, is a matter open for debate.

Yes, the braiding is a pain in the ****. Here is the theory behind it, according to Chris VenHaus:

"Symmetrical field interactions: By using the braiding technique described, it substantially reduces any asymmetrical field interactions since no pair (or wire) 'rides' on either the inside or outside of the cable more than any other pair/wire."

This may or may not have an sonic benefit. For me, it was more a matter of aesthetics. It makes for a much neater cable than many strands of CAT5 tied together.
 
Audio Band Transmission Lines...

Bruce, chill brother, my snide remark was directed at mr Sparhawk.
I was agreeing with you, and you with me I thought.
I have been using it for years too, and have found it to be consistently good and better than anything else, and so much so that I don't bother to use anything else, and when I hear systems using other cable I find them to be electrically/sonically wrong.
Thanks for the TDR measurement - that is what I was after.
I think that a matched line/load system is important.
Although strictly/theoretically speaking cable inductance and characteristic impedence ought not to be a consideration for the audio band, realistically speaking the real world parameters of negative feedback systems, induced RF noise, and spurious RF output of digital sources IMO mandate that standard transmission theory matched lines/load practises be implemented.
This is conditional to a flat loudspeaker impedence curve, and my experiments of LSP impedence compensation in conjunction with 25 pair cable gives long term listening/living with results far superior to any other cable that I am familiar with.
I find better bandwidth low and high, bigger better truer transients, less distortion over the whole band, cooler running amps and no speaker breakages.

Eric.
 
Sparhawk (use your real name),
4 pairs in parallel Vs 25 pairs in parallel ?
The 25 pair is lower series inductance period, no iffs or buts.
You merely got slapped for making a misleading statement.
In my experience I find that teflon insulation and indoor cable insulation sound different, and I don't like teflon at all, period, and I do like 12/20/25 pair cable.
I have read the theory behind the plaiting process, and I agree with his theories, but I don't think that this effect is as important as he reckons.
The balancing in multi-twisted pair cables is pretty bloody good - so good that hundreds of pairs can carry telephone signals over long distances without crosstalk, provided that the loads are terminated correctly - this is the key and is important in audio systems imo.

Eric.
 
Re: Audio Band Transmission Lines...

mrfeedback said:
Bruce, chill brother, my snide remark was directed at mr Sparhawk.

And for what reason? Because I dared say that CAT5 just might be superior to your phone cable? Maybe not, but in any case, I don't think it justified any snide remarks. I'd be willing to bet that CAT5 would measure better. (See my previous comment about bandwidth.) CAT5 is used at 100MHz, and 5e up to 350MHz - try doing that with phone cable. I can't say that it sounds better, since I haven't compared them, but it certainly won't sound worse.
 
mrfeedback said:
4 pairs in parallel Vs 25 pairs in parallel ?
The 25 pair is lower series inductance period, no iffs or buts.


Perhaps you should read more carefully, Eric. The cables I was referring to use 27 twisted pairs, not 4. Hence, lower inductance than yours.

You merely got slapped for making a misleading statement.

If you had read more carefully, you would have realized it was not misleading.

In my experience I find that teflon insulation and indoor cable insulation sound different, and I don't like teflon at all, period, and I do like 12/20/25 pair cable.

Fine - that's your opinion. I happen to like Teflon, as do many other people. I'm not saying it sounds better, just that it probably measures better.

I have read the theory behind the plaiting process, and I agree with his theories, but I don't think that this effect is as important as he reckons.

I don't know if it is important, either. I was mearly pointing out that there is a reason for braiding. Maybe it doesn't justify all the work, but then, how many tweaks really do? That's what makes it an obsessive hobby.
 
Just a quick question for Sparhawk. Have you tried the phone cable? If not, you speak from your opinions and not the results of tests of any kind.

The real deal is that there isn't much difference. Cat5 is very similar to phonecable. If you stripped off the jacket of the phone cable, seperated the wires and braided them back together the result would be the same as cat5. I think it is very funny the just because someone calls a wire "computer cable" that makes it better. The construction of cat5 as it comes off the roll is the same as phone cable just a different number of conductors.

As for the data rate down phone cable, just the same. The reason it's not used for highspeed data is crosstalk into the analog audio. (Cat5 would do the same thing.)

mrfeedback I was directing my comments to sparhawk, not you sorry.

Later
Bruce:geezer:
 
HDTVman said:
Just a quick question for Sparhawk. Have you tried the phone cable? If not, you speak from your opinions and not the results of tests of any kind.

Indeed, these are only my opinions. As I said before, I have not heard the phone cable. All I said was that CAT5 would likely measure better. I have not done any tests.

The real deal is that there isn't much difference.

I agree. The difference is likely very minimal.

I think it is very funny the just because someone calls a wire "computer cable" that makes it better. The construction of cat5 as it comes off the roll is the same as phone cable just a different number of conductors.

It's not quite that simple. I work with data networks, and I can tell you that phone cable will not work at gigabit speeds. CAT5 has more twists per inch than phone cable, and the twists are much more consistent.

As for the data rate down phone cable, just the same. The reason it's not used for highspeed data is crosstalk into the analog audio. (Cat5 would do the same thing.)

Phone cable will do 10Mb/s for short runs, but not much more than that.
 
Sparhawk, thanks for your reply.
If you mean 27 pairs you shouldsay so in order to avoid ambiguity - thats why I might say 25 pairs 3 times in the one sentence - scientific clarity.
You say "measures better" - what parameters do you mean ....scientific clarity..
I reckon just using the 25 pair cable is lots easier than the muck around of the braiding thingy.
To back up Bruce, I reckon you try as we do - we guarantee that you will find it perfectly fine.
I have experimented with various Teflon dielectrics/insulations in the past, and I found that teflon gives a character that I do not like - teflon is full of flourine - the body only needs this in micro amounts.
It is through my previously obsessive perhaps audio experimenting that I now use things like the 25 pr and find that I can relax and enjoy it - that's the whole point of the experimenting search I reckon. ;)
Oh, and Bruce is right about cable construction.

Eric.
 
So, there you go Corn-Picker. Use the cat5 if you want. No damage should come to your amp.

Or you could use the phone cable. Listens and tests about the same and I have done both to both cables.

My friends and I can't reliably tell the diference so use the one you can get. I would not waste the time braiding it (just my opinion).

Later
Bruce:geezer:
 
mrfeedback said:
If you mean 27 pairs you shouldsay so in order to avoid ambiguity - thats why I might say 25 pairs 3 times in the one sentence - scientific clarity.

Granted, I should have been more clear. I assumed everyone had read the page referenced in the original post, where the CAT5 project is detailed.

You say "measures better" - what parameters do you mean ....scientific clarity..

Lower inductance. Higher capacitance. (Not good, but shouldn't hurt anything). I have no idea what the impedance of the CAT5 would be.

I reckon just using the 25 pair cable is lots easier than the muck around of the braiding thingy.

I agree. Much, much easier.

Oh, and Bruce is right about cable construction.

I don't mean to be a nit-picker, but I have to disagree here. I'm not an expert on cable construction, but I do know that CAT5 is manufactured to some pretty tight specifications. Because differential signalling is used, tight tolerances on twisting are required to ensure symmetry and noise rejection. CAT5 is tested to death, including near-end crosstalk, return loss, propagation delay, and delay skew. It would be interesting to test some phone cable, and see how it compares.

Whether there is any audible difference, I don't know. If so, it must be miniscule.
 
Corn-picker,

I agree with Bruce; there probably won't be an audible difference. So, here's an idea for you:

Build some short, braided CAT5 cables, and put a nice fabric or plastic braided cover over them, with some gold-plated spade lugs and some heat-shrink tubing. Use these for L-C-R. They look really good, but they are only practical to build in short lengths.

Then use some 25-pair phone cable, as suggested, for the surrounds. It will achieve the same effect, with much less effort, and it doesn't matter what it looks like since it will likely be concealed.
 
Now, if you want the ultimate speaker cable I would use heilax. 7/8 is good for 5kw. .:xeye: The larger sizes are just to expensive. The dry air dialectric can't be beat, and frequency response is out to several gHz. :drool: It's hard to deal with though with a bend radius of 2 to 3 feet and stiff enough to need a conduit bender for forming.::boggled:

Just kidding

Later
Bruce:geezer: