leach superamp and capacitive speaker cables

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.
I have recently found a speaker cable recipe that,acording to all reviews is outstanding. the cables are very lo inductance but at the price of high capacitance, in the order of 4000pf for and 8 ft length!!
My question is this,Has any one out there experimented with exotic(high capacitance) cables with the leach superamp. I am aware that there is a zobel network on the binding posts but I am not sure if it is enough. The cables are moderatly priced except that i have to by a 1000ft box , and are very labour intensive to make. If its going to be a problem for my mono block amps i would rather save the time and cash and heartache!!
P.S. the leach amps are fabulous!!!

I beg to differ, under certain conditions the capacitance of a speaker cable can cause an amplifier to go into oscillation and terminating the cable will stop the oscillation.
See Nelson Pass's article on the subject, available on the Pass Labs web site.

I have found it not to affect the sound of the amplifier unless it was controlling some instability.


I agree that a highly capacitive cable can cause oscillation, but adding additional capacitance across the output of the amp, in the form of a Zobel, is not the way to cure it. Either extra compensation within the amp is required to control the Nyquist stability or an output inductor is fitted. I quote Doug Self on this aspect " The most effective precaution against this form of instabitity (capacitive loading) is a small air-cored inductor in series with the amplifier output. This isolates the amplifier from the shunt capacitance, without causing significant losses at audio frequencies".


It's not only modern equipment, none of the amplifiers (either commercial or DIY) that I have used during the past 30 years has had an output inductor.

My understanding is that provision of a suitable termination load for a cable, by fitting a Zobel at each end, ameliorates the effects of the low impedance of some of the more esoteric cables which can cause amplifier instability. It should also reduce the amount of RFI picked up by the cable and transmitted back into the feedback network.

However, the original question related to the effects of a high capacitance cable on the Leach amp. I am not familiar with his 'superamp', but if it follows his 'Low TIM' design there is an output inductor fitted as standard. In which case, cable capacitance shouldn't be a problem.

losing control

Amplifiers using global feedback do not like capacitive loads because they increase the overall phase shift of the amp and reduce phase margin. In extreme cases the amp will burst into high frequency oscillation and sometimes self-destruct. 20 years ago transistor technology was much more primitive than today so the phase margins were much lower. Today, with faster devices and progress in circuit design most can get away with either no series output component at all or just a resistor. Naim amps put a 0.2-ohm WW resistor in series with the speaker output, although even they get very upset with capacitve loads.

If you have the guts :eek: and the equipment to measure stability it is a good test to attach a capacitor box to your amps speaker terminals and feed it a low amplitude square wave whilst dialing up various capacitor values (say 1nF to 10uF). Look for signs of instability then compensate in the amp itself or with a series resistor and/or inductor located right at the amp pcb. The zobel should preceed this and should also be located on the amp pcb with its own dedicated ground return to the ground star point. If you cannot make it stable with reasonable R/L values then you may need to reduce the feedback gain or reduce the frequency of the 1st open loop pole, etc. By the way, amps are often unstable into capacitive loads due to poor grounding alone so you need to ensure that your amp uses a star ground point and there are no disparate currents sharing common ground wires.

I've never heard of putting a second zobel at the speaker idea. I'm not sure how this would help.

By the way, if you use an output inductor you should also use a resistor in parallel with it as has been suggested earlier. Otherwise your inductor and the speaker cable capacitance form a series resonant circuit that will create a low Z at the resonant frequency, depending upon the Z of the speaker at that frequency.
The one and only
Joined 2001
Paid Member
I recommend the link Jam lists, as it goes into detail
about the resonance function that occurs when you
are driving a transmission line, which is what a cable is
at high frequencies. All cables do this unless terminated
in their characteristic impedance at the speaker end.

The reason some of the low inductance cables are
problematic is that the resonance can be low enough to
be inside the bandpass of the amplifier's feedback loop,
and oscillation occurs.

When oscillation occurs, all sorts of effects show up, often
as subtle as simply bad sound, but occasionally resulting
in smoke coming from the amp.

At this late date, I find it amazing that this stuff is not
better understood by the audiphile population.
Um...I know that many hereabouts regard me as being, well, sanity-challenged, but can anyone explain to me why it's worth pursuing high reactance (capacitance, inductance, or both) cables when there are so many cable designs that don't require hanging such an albatross around your neck?
I've never heard such a cable that I didn't feel was masking or offsetting problems elsewhere in the system.

This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.