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Speaker cables

Printed From: Graham Slee Hifi System Components
Category: Cables and Interconnects
Forum Name: Interconnects for Turntable and Headphone
Forum Description: Technical Q&A, hints and tips
URL: https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=4296
Printed Date: 20 Apr 2024 at 9:44pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: Speaker cables
Posted By: Baflar
Subject: Speaker cables
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2017 at 7:40pm
I'm basically happy with my hi-fi set up:
STD turntable / Hadcock unipivot Mk.1 arm / Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge / Harbeth HL Monitor Mk.2 speakers / digital stuff going through a Chord Mojo - but I've become increasingly concerned to get maximum clarity and soundstage out of it all.  I'm mightily impressed by reviews of Graham's phono pre-amps and hoping (as I await a delivery for trial) that it will make the sought-after improvement.  But - here's the bit that I'd welcome comments on - I'd had a baffling exchange elsewhere when I enquired about speaker cables...!

The claims made for proprietory speaker cables sound fantastic - and hard to believe!  I currently use fairly thick, multi-strand paired runs, held apart in a parallel formation in a plastic strip.  Basically vanilla.  Will branded cables REALLY make much difference, I wondered.

A certain hi-fi shop (not a million miles away, as they say) astonished me by saying there was no point in considering new cables until I'd got new speaker stands: implying, I guess, that new speaker stands would make even more improvement than new cables.  This seems even harder to believe!  My existing speaker cables are of the 'open platform' type, supporting the speaker on two edges, topped with acoustically-absorbent material.  The certain hi-fi shop owner seemed horrified that the stands were on castors - but it's surely obvious that the speakers themselves are virtually surrounded by air and almost no vibration would reach the castors. 

This has weighed on my mind!  Any informed comment would be welcome Smile




Replies:
Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2017 at 11:19pm
Hello and welcome,
    Everything makes a difference, sometimes a difference younlike and sometimes not. Room treatments and speaker stands can make a bigger difference than speaker cables at times, certainly, but so much depends on your particular situation. So, cables will make a difference, even if only as a form on tone control, but my experience is that cables made audible differences to clarity and detail, and hence soundstage.

Having said that, my current speakers have been on two sets of stands, and set one sounded comprehensively better than the other. Bass depth, midrange clarity and treble extension were easily superior. Mind you, the worse stands were cheap and flimsy!

The only solution, fortunately, is to try it in your own home.
I hope you enjoy the loan Scheme!
Mick.

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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - PS Audio M700 - Fical Kanta No2


Posted By: Baflar
Date Posted: 08 Aug 2017 at 11:57pm
Originally posted by Aussie Mick Aussie Mick wrote:

...
    Everything makes a difference, sometimes a difference younlike and sometimes not. Room treatments and speaker stands can make a bigger difference than speaker cables at times, [...] So, cables will make a difference, even if only as a form on tone control, but my experience is that cables made audible differences to clarity and detail, and hence soundstage.

Having said that, my current speakers have been on two sets of stands, and set one sounded comprehensively better than the other. Bass depth, midrange clarity and treble extension were easily superior. [...] Mick.



Wow.  I'm amazed, but I believe you!  I guess the question remains as to whether branded cables are likely to be clearly superior to the 'ordinary' big parallel wires that I currently use.  I agree that the ultimate proof of the pudding lies in a home test, but would you (and the other experienced ears around here) really think it likely that even Graham's speaker cables could significantly improve clarity, detail and soundstage beyond the current set-up?  I've just measured the width of my current cables, btw, and find that the insulation holds the two cores 1cm apart, so there won't be much capacitance effect.  Or (gulp) would there? Confused !


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 12:52am
Originally posted by Baflar Baflar wrote:

I've just measured the width of my current cables, btw, and find that the insulation holds the two cores 1cm apart, so there won't be much capacitance effect.  Or (gulp) would there? Confused !


No, but wide spacing increases inductance. Try entering some figures here: https://www.eeweb.com/toolbox/parallel-wire-inductance


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That none should be able to buy or sell without a smartphone and the knowledge in how to use apps


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 4:28am
You're also making the assumption (I think) that thicker cable is better. There seem to be so many variables! I tend to think of it more as, "I fundamentally enjoy what my system does, but in my room there's too much bass", and then think about why. Is it speaker placement or room dimensions or is it a warm and fat sounding system in a room that's too small? In that scenario, a cable that isn't "accurate" but is bass shy might actually give me a much better result IN MY SYSTEM. Room treatment might be another option, or moving rooms, or changing the speakers, etc.
Which route do you take? I use Slee cables in my primary system and they do the job I need them to do. However, I use a different brand in the TV system and they do the right job there. If I swap cables around my primary system suffers and my TV system gets a bit of glare. The old system matching chestnut?

There's no substitute for listening in your own home with your own gear. Here in Australia there some dealers happy for you to take demo gear for a few days with a credit card swipe. Do you have that option for trying the other speaker stands?
Mick.

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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - PS Audio M700 - Fical Kanta No2


Posted By: Richardl60
Date Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 6:50am
Whilst a branded cable is no guarantee of a good cable, proper engineering (research, design, materials, plugs etc) do matter. Cable diameter and screening does make a difference though as already stated big is not necessarily beautiful. Trying a small number of home demos should be possible and in my experience finding a speaker cable that is 'the best' in all areas can be quite rare so may be a compromise.


Posted By: Baflar
Date Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 12:29pm
Thanks greatly for all these comments.  I think I'm convinced anew that proprietory cables will probably be better than my unbranded 'parallel vanilla', but it appears necessary to do a lot of in situ testing to settle on what sounds best.

I think my scepticism was in the taken-for-granted thought that the 'active' components in the system (e.g. cartridge, amp, speakers) are what really determine the sound experience, while the 'passive' elements (interconnects at all stages up to the speaker terminals) introduce relatively minor tweaks.  I'm changing my mind slightly!  I see that, in a sense, there is an active aspect to speaker cables - primarily towards degrading the sound in subtle ways.

Which just leaves that (rather extreme) comment from the hi-fi shop 'not a million miles away' that there'd be no point in getting speaker cables before changing my speaker stands.  As I said in the first post, these are of the open platform type, firmly supporting the speakers at the edge, with acoustically absorbent material between.  Now, what the blenge is so wrong with these speaker stands?! Ermm




Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 12:38pm
I agree that the active components have the biggest impact, and that passive components (including cables, stands and room treatment) are there for refinement. Unfortunately, and I don't have any experience with your speaker stands, sometimes what we site our gear on can actively work against the system. Turntables too close to speakers, speakers sighted on wobbly, uneven stands, etc.

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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - PS Audio M700 - Fical Kanta No2


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 1:54pm
Originally posted by Baflar Baflar wrote:

Now, what the blenge is so wrong with these speaker stands?! Ermm


Probably nothing, other than the dealer maybe trying to sell you new ones.
Are the ones being proposed meant to be spiked to the floor?

Many folk have the idea that spiking speakers to the floor tightens up the sound, which in my experience is not the case.

In my experience spiking speakers to the floor causes all sorts of problems, usually an unnatural and forced midband being most prominent. If you have suspended floors the floor becomes a sympathetic resonator too.

The castors on your current stands probably provide decent enough isolation from the floor.


Posted By: Baflar
Date Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 1:38pm
Originally posted by Chris Firth Chris Firth wrote:

Originally posted by Baflar Baflar wrote:

Now, what the blenge is so wrong with these speaker stands?! Ermm


Probably nothing, other than the dealer maybe trying to sell you new ones.
Are the ones being proposed meant to be spiked to the floor?

Many folk have the idea that spiking speakers to the floor tightens up the sound, which in my experience is not the case.

In my experience spiking speakers to the floor causes all sorts of problems, usually an unnatural and forced midband being most prominent. If you have suspended floors the floor becomes a sympathetic resonator too.

The castors on your current stands probably provide decent enough isolation from the floor.

Very helpful comment, Chris.  Thanks for that.  The dealer 'not a million miles away' did say I need speaker stands that spike to the floor, and fill the columns with sand.  Given that this type of stand tends to have a solid platform, it seems to me that this will pretty reliably result in transmitting sound straight into my floorboards, introducing all sorts of colouration.  It's much the same as the principle used in transmitting the vibration into the sound-box on an old-fashioned mechanical gramophone: a rigid element terminating in a somewhat flexible transmitter.  At least the castors provide single-point contact, from a curved surface, so very little transmission, from a base that has negligible incoming vibration.

All in all, I don't find the dealer's advice very credible...!



Posted By: Richardl60
Date Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 3:04pm
Whilst I remain agnostic in the spike debate many years ago filling some substantial metal stands with lead shot to deaden them completely ruined the sound of some of the Big IMF transmission line speakers robbing of dynamics and drives amongst other things. Care is needed to judge for yourself as to what works thigh stands are important as are the connections to the floor.


Posted By: Drewan77
Date Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 3:22pm
As far as spikes vs castors are concerned, I have a very nice pair of retired Shahinian Obelisks with castors fitted as standard and at no point did I feel that this compromised the sound on either solid or suspended floors. I haven't used 'standard' spikes on speakers for several years.

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Older than I once was, younger than I'll be
.............................
Andrew


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 10 Aug 2017 at 4:19pm
I thought spikes were to penetrate through carpet therefore I don't use the spikes supplied with my stands because I have a tiled floor. Ermm

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That none should be able to buy or sell without a smartphone and the knowledge in how to use apps


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 12:17pm
And yet another option! I've put first generation Pulsar Points on the spikes of the stands and it's brought more precision and dynamic flexibility the sound. My opinion these days is that EVERYTHING matters to some degree and it's not always positive and not always obvious. Suck it and see is the only real way to know.
Mick.

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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - PS Audio M700 - Fical Kanta No2


Posted By: Baflar
Date Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 12:37pm
All great comments!  I'll try summing up:

1.  Proprietory cables will probably produce an improvement over the unbranded 'parallel' cables
2.  The open-platform stands, terminating in castors, are unlikely to be any worse than expensive stands with spikes
3.  Whatever the hoped-for improvement, it has to be tested in situ.

All agreed?! Thumbs Up 
(That sets me up for a mildly obsessive few months! Wacko )



Posted By: Richardl60
Date Posted: 11 Aug 2017 at 6:18pm
Nearly, as mick says suck it and see (point 2) as this may depend on your insitu installation


Posted By: Eric
Date Posted: 12 Aug 2017 at 11:02pm
A pair of Spatia speaker cables will soon be tested by me.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 13 Aug 2017 at 1:59am
The need for low capacitance speaker cables came about through the success of a major brand in amplifiers, and the many which followed in their footsteps. These amp manufacturers had decided that output inductors were plain wrong. That by removing them it would "improve" the sound.

It then occurred to them that their amplifiers were blowing because the speaker cable capacitance was "too high". Because these amplifiers had sold in the many thousands there was a ready market for low capacitance speaker cable. All what was needed was some clever marketing, and the press obliged.

Output inductors as well as zobel networks (a capacitor and a resistor in series across the output prior to the output inductor) had served the purpose of isolating amplifiers from output capacitance historically. They were used to preserve phase (and gain) margins to prevent oscillation or a lesser form of instability known as "ringing". These operated far above the audible spectrum, but still it was thought (and with some it still is) that the speakers should be "given" much higher frequencies because we will hear the difference.

Yes, we do hear the difference between a stable amplifier and one that rings. I doubt that much power will be developed in any dynamic tweeter because like all wound components they have inductance such that their impedance increases considerably with frequency. So we are not hearing more - we are hearing the difference between stability and instability - and instability is marketable.

One thing I have noted is that an unstable circuit wears out electrolytic capacitors - shortens their life - and I have also noticed that such amplifiers require "re-capping".

One more thing regarding an earlier comment: wide spacing of speaker cable conductors, whilst reducing capacitance considerably, increases inductance. Therefore the removal of the output inductor from the amplifier is simply being replaced by cable inductance. It is "kicked down the road".

The thing about proper education is it destroys myths/false beliefs. That's if you can find a proper education.


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That none should be able to buy or sell without a smartphone and the knowledge in how to use apps


Posted By: Eric
Date Posted: 12 Jul 2018 at 9:29pm
Any one who has experience of Spatia speaker cables together with Magnepan 3.7i speakers?


Posted By: Eric
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 7:30pm
Yesterday I finaly recevied a pair of Spatial speaker cables for testing. They are now connected to my Boenicke W8 speakers. So far I really like what I hear. 
There are a lot of details and body in the sound. Everything is there, from the highest to the lowest tones. 



Posted By: lfc jon
Date Posted: 11 Mar 2023 at 4:29pm
Didn't want to make a new thread so I jumped on this one.

After much thought on what my next HiFi upgrade would be, I decided that CD & Vinyl together as a upgrade would be the best way forward, so today I have placed an order for a pair of Spatia speaker cable and speaker terminal links. I came into some money so thought why not.


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Reflex M, Solo (both with PSU-1) CuSat50, Lautus, Spatia & Spatia links cables. Ortofon Bronze.


Posted By: Baflar
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2023 at 6:22pm
Do please post your verdict when you've had a chance to listen with the Spatia cables connected.  As you might have noticed from my comments (a few years back!), I've been a bit 'agnostic' when it comes to speaker cables.  Since then I've moved house and had to set up the hi-fi in a smaller room.  Not so good!  So it's a timely mention of speaker cables again: I'm wondering if the investment might bring back the sort of sound quality I got used to...


Posted By: lfc jon
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2023 at 6:58pm
Originally posted by Baflar Baflar wrote:

Do please post your verdict when you've had a chance to listen with the Spatia cables connected.  As you might have noticed from my comments (a few years back!), I've been a bit 'agnostic' when it comes to speaker cables.  Since then I've moved house and had to set up the hi-fi in a smaller room.  Not so good!  So it's a timely mention of speaker cables again: I'm wondering if the investment might bring back the sort of sound quality I got used to...

OKThumbs Up


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Reflex M, Solo (both with PSU-1) CuSat50, Lautus, Spatia & Spatia links cables. Ortofon Bronze.



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