Interconnects... (uggh, another thread on cables... ;)

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Yes, I know, another thread discussing cables....

Why? Well, just about every thread I find on the subject creates more questions than answers. :)

Goal: Short length good quality interconnects from DAC to Miniwatt Tube amp. (3.5w single ended pentode.)

Dilemma: There is so much conflicting info out there and so little substance to really go on. A lot of this is meaningless to a slow-poke like me. e.g. high vs low capacitance?? When does it matter? This is a pretty confusing subject overall just because there doesn't seem to be a clear right or wrong...and so much hype and crazy marketing that for newbies like me we have no idea what to try. I suppose the issue is that everyone speaks about cables as if there is some holy grail - yet in reality its a crapshoot and differences are often imagined rather than real? :rolleyes:

Price Range: Below $75 either bought new or DIY. (Including terminations.)

Shielding: This is one of the things really confusing me. Is there a way for me to figure out if I need shielding or not? It seems a lot of manufacturers aren't too concerned about shielding (e.g. Kimber Kable) but I would think to play it safe and include shielding? And then there are all sorts of shielding types...I honestly have no clue.

Solid core vs stranded: Sigh. Does it really matter? :confused: Sounds like strand-jumping is not relevant at low voltages used in Audio?

Gauge: There seems to be no consistency or rhyme or reason? When would one go with a higher vs lower gauge? At short distances 24g is probably enough?

Insulation: Teflon seems to have a good reputation. This seems to be one of the less confusing items though some people question the need for Teflon. (I am perfectly happy using Teflon and don't see the need to debate this.)

Terminations: Crimped Canare vs. soldered... Copper vs Silver vs. plated brass vs. Eichmann vs rah rah rah :eek: I like the idea of the Canare crimped connectors (though I realize this is not a DIY option). For DIY - just how important is Copper vs. say, gold-plated brass vs. silver etc?

If replying to this post, please try to be constructive and help simplify the issue for newbies rather than emphasising the can of worms that it is. :D To make this constructive for all the other clueless types like me reading this thread in future, I will be rating responses on my confus-o-meter. (Entirely machined out of a solid block of rhodium. It is very accurate.) A score of 1 means that you gave a shitty and confusing reply. A score of 10 means that you are a genius at explaining complicated things to simple minds... :trapper: (I have my 99.99999972% pure silver flack-jacket on...)
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I think you should take a step back and look at your system as a whole and try and balance things. $75 is a lot of money to spend on a set of IC's. Is the rest of your system top notch? Could that sort of money make a bigger difference elsewhere? Before you lay out that kind of coin let us know what the rest of your system is and perhaps we can help you from there.
Confus-o-meter rating: 10 - You are an advice genius

This strikes me as really good advice.

My system at the moment is Imac computer source - generic USB cable - Nuforce Udac2 - Radio Shack interconnects - Miniwatt EL84 single ended tube amp - DIY Cat5 plenum (teflon) speaker cables (4 twisted pair braided) - Fostex Fe206ens in BIB enclosures.
This is great news! Problem solved.

The sceptic in me says: "Are Radio-Shack cables really OK?" and "if all of these forums and websites are going on about zillions of cable a $10 cable = to a $100 cable?"

For the sake of closure and for other newbies out there: Is that all there is to it? i.e. at what point or in what context should one actually worry about interconnects? Is it all just blown way out of proportion??


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The other thing that you must remember is that all cables are bad. Some are just less bad.

The cable industry thrives on rich guys who do not have the guts to do actual DIY, and they 'tune' their system with cables. Therefore it behooves cable manufacturers to make their product have a bit of color in them, so that when cable A is replaced with cable B, there is a difference heard, and that must be better, right?? Right??

Anyway, there are (some) differences (minor) in good cable. But I wouldn't get all worried about it.
hard to say as we don't know the detail of your amp and what music you are in to.

I'd have to say that an EL84 SE isn't going to have enough to rock my boat. But, for hte right music and wit hthe right stuff around the tube (power supply, opt especially) it could be a sweet little number...
In many cases the weakest link now is the record producer. He will add heavy compression and frequency response wiggles, so there is nothing you can do at your end to make the result sound like real music.

However, given a decent recording the next problem is the speakers, but you are happy with those. Next is the amplifier, as there is a lot of poor design out there - some people even deliberately build in distortion or frequency problems (or do it accidentally through incompetence). CD player/DAC is next, but this is likely to be competently designed (unless you paid really silly money for it).

Right at the end is the cables, and the connectors are more important than the cable itself. In my opinion, almost everything you read about the importance of cables is rubbish. For a start you can ignore everything written by someone who is trying to sell you something. Input cables should be screened. Speaker cables should have low resistance. Both should have reasonably low capacitance, without getting too excited about it. That's about it.

Don't listen to the equipment. Listen to the music.
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