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#23056 - 05/22/03 04:18 PM HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
sigmachi25 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 23
Loc: Jax, Fla.
Right now I am using the Rat Shack - Gold series of interconnects and some decent Monster Cable interconnects. -

Those of you who have upgraded to "high-end"
interconnects, have you noticed an ACTUAL sonic difference ?


I am willing to spend on some better cables - but not just to look behind my stereo and see a bunch of cool looking wires.

I do agree that I have noticed a difference between the "stock" RCA cables that come with most electronics and my small upgrade to the Gold Series, but is it worth the $$ to purchase even better stuff or is this just the same cables with a nice wrapper ?


Bryan

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#23057 - 05/22/03 05:58 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
gonk Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 14054
Loc: Memphis, TN USA
Hi-Fi Interconnects - The Truth Is Out There?

You will get every possible differing opinion on this one. Some people swear that as long as there are no physical flaws in the cable (damage, poor soldering at connectors, whatnot) and the conductor is not woefully undersized then it makes no difference what you use. Other people honestly believe that different cables can make or break a system. There is undeniably some serious snake oil going on in hi-end A/V interconnects, to a sickening degree. The "hard" science behind it is largely suspect and often manipulated in all sorts of ways once you get beyond basics like preventing excessive voltage drop (don't use 24-gauge speaker cable for a 60-foot run, for example) and shielding against interference from power cables.

My personal opinion is somewhat in the middle of the road on the issue. I have experimented a bit with an assortment cables (using some really expensive stuff that was borrowed for a while as well as a range of stuff in the same general price range as the Monster Cable products you can find at places like Best Buy). I've seen and heard some differences in the various cables, as has my wife (who has no interest in tinkering/upgrading the HT system, but has a pretty good ear and grew up with an audiophile for a father). Those differences were not necessarily linked directly to cost, either (for example, most of my analog audio interconnects are Outlaw's PCA's -- a good deal more expensive than RS Gold, but cheaper than many of the other cables I compared them to). How much of that is real and how much is my mind playing tricks on me I don't know, but I've got a setup now that pleases me. I got there by tinkering -- picking up a pair of this and a pair of that, using them for a while, comparing them a bit on my system. I would strongly recommend against chucking what you have and dropping a chunk of change on "XYZ" super-duper cables to replace them, but you might pick up some not-too-extravagent stuff and swap it out for a singlel component to see what your ear thinks of the whole debate. The RS Gold cables are generally regarded as a good value -- solidly made and free of the most grievous and obvious weaknesses of "stock" cables while being very affordable. I haven't ever had any, so I am going solely on what I have heard from others. If you don't see any difference between RS Gold and Outlaw PCA or BetterCables Silver Serpent or Tributaries or CatCables or whoever, then stick with the RS Gold. Many people end up in exactly that place.

Woah... Had a message written, got called away from the computer, posted it, and found that it had moved. Trippy.

I'm leaving town in the morning for a long weekend without 'net access, so I look forward to seeing where this thread goes while I'm gone. Could be very interesting...

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#23058 - 05/22/03 06:36 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
Paul J. Stiles Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 279
Loc: Mountain View, CA, USofA
Interconnect snake oil is passe.

The new, "in", snake oil is power cords. To get the best out of your $200 whatever, you need a $700 power cord.

Paul

------------------
the 1derful1
_________________________
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#23059 - 05/22/03 07:05 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
soundhound Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 1857
Loc: Gusev Crater, Mars
Yes, I'm with Paul on this one - I do firmly believe you need a $700 power cord. I'm sure if you pay the power company enough $$$ they will string pure silver wire from Hoover dam (or wherever your power is generated) right to your house, via "audiophile" pole transformers, I'm sure it will make a great difference in your sex life.

On a more whimsical note, I would recommend that you purchase good quality interconnects and speaker wire. Better interconnects tend to have higher quality RCAs with better gold plating, along with better shielding of the wire. Copper oxygen free speaker wire I have found is more immune to corrosion, which over time can cause problems. Personally, I don't think much of RadioShack, or their products: everything I've bought there with few exceptions has been cheaply made. I would investigate the Outlaw interconnects or similar.

Myself, I make my own interconnects with Canare RCAs (when forced to, otherwise BNCs) which have good thick gold plating, and I use RG-59 cable, which is good for anything from audio line level up through digital S/PDIF connections.

[This message has been edited by soundhound (edited May 22, 2003).]

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#23060 - 05/23/03 12:58 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
Alejate Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 05/10/03
Posts: 181
Loc: Albany, NY
This is a tough one to answer. I connected my 950 to the 770 using Radio Shack's new "Fusion Cables." They look nice, have a drain and a filter, make a very tight fit on the RCA jacks. But improve the sound? Just don't know. Because of so much hype and deception in the cable world it's hard to say what is good and what is a waste of money. Do you like the sound you are currently hearing? If so, keep your cables and spend the money you saved on your significant other, (what a way to win points). I once got sucked into buying replacement speaker cable for 10 times the cost of my originals. I wanted to hear a difference, I needed to hear an improvement; but in the end it just sounded the same.

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#23061 - 05/23/03 05:00 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
Jed M Offline
Desperado

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 526
Loc: Home on the range
I wrestled with your problem also so just to be sure I decided to make my own canare cable, like soundhound does. The cost to make is about 15 a pair and they are basically the same as the high end boutique type cables so either way I am now covered. I noticed a bigger difference in audio then I did in video, but ymmv.

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#23062 - 05/23/03 09:23 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
sigmachi25 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 23
Loc: Jax, Fla.
Sorry about posting this in the 950 forum to begin, I guess I missed this ENTIRE FORUM dedicated to my questions : )

The "canare" cables sound interesting - is it difficult to make yourself? If not, where can I get parts/info. on how to make them ?

Thx.

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#23063 - 05/23/03 11:23 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
soundhound Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 1857
Loc: Gusev Crater, Mars
If you can solder (or learn to) they are relatively easy to make. The RCAs can be had through the Canare web site, which is www.canare.com. The particular RCAs is their model F-09. The RG-59 cable can be had at RadioShack, or probably through Canare (their wire is professional stuff, and very good). I could post some detailed assembly instructions and pix if interested.

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#23064 - 05/23/03 11:34 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
sigmachi25 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 23
Loc: Jax, Fla.
Soundhound, I would appreciate the detailed info. whenever you have the time/desire to post -


Thx.

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#23065 - 05/23/03 11:55 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
sigmachi25 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 23
Loc: Jax, Fla.
I was just thinking, as a semi-professional musician (happy hour- guitar guy) - that the cables which 99% of musicians use to hook their instruments up to an amp or board, are probably 90% cheaper than the "boutique" cables which audiophiles are buying in order to reproduce - the sound coming FROM those musicians using cheap cables -

I can tell you that there may be some guitarist out there with a $200 guitar cable, but I haven't met him, and they are not for sale at any music store I know of.

Just a thought -

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#23066 - 05/23/03 12:57 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
soundhound Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 1857
Loc: Gusev Crater, Mars
See my post under "Soundhound's DIY interconnects!"

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#23067 - 05/29/03 09:10 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
doclb Offline
Deputy Gunslinger

Registered: 05/29/03
Posts: 2
I've had good results the last several years with Acoustic Research Pro Series interconnects. They are well made and inexpensive. They are available at www. accessories4less.com. I also have a set of Outlaw interconnects and really can't tell much difference in system performance. And for whatever it's worth, even Stereophile magazine recommended the Acoustic Research cables last month.

Disclaimer -- I have no asociation with Acoustic Research, accessories4less or Stereophile.

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#23068 - 05/30/03 10:21 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
Jason J Offline
Desperado

Registered: 09/02/02
Posts: 615
Loc: Northern Garden State
Quote:
I was just thinking, as a semi-professional musician (happy hour- guitar guy) - that the cables which 99% of musicians use to hook their instruments up to an amp or board, are probably 90% cheaper than the "boutique" cables which audiophiles are buying in order to reproduce - the sound coming FROM those musicians using cheap cables -


The only problem I've ever found with guitar cables, as a sound engineer, is that most guitarist don't really know how to properly coil a cable. If they did, their cables might just work a little bit better.

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#23069 - 05/30/03 10:32 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
sigmachi25 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 23
Loc: Jax, Fla.
I guess at the end of a gig/session - we are too lazy to put all those cables away properly - I have had many times where I should have coiled everything nicely, and woke up to look at an explosion at the spaghetti factory in my gig box !!

I have learned that it is definitely worth the extra time to keep the cables alive for the next time.

But that's why there are engineers to keep the artists in line : )

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#23070 - 05/30/03 01:19 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
Joshorr Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 10/09/01
Posts: 50
Loc: Boston, MA
Here is an article from Secrets about a DYI speaker cable:
http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_10_2/ultralink-CL414-cable-5-2003.html

It has some interesting stuff on the theory of "good" cables (ie the physics behind them) and another installment to the bi-wire debate that even my non-engineer mind could begin to understand.

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#23071 - 06/01/03 02:59 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
bestbang4thebuck Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/20/03
Posts: 668
Loc: Maryland
For interconnects, I am using Belden 1694A video cable with Canare connectors. Because of my background in both video and audio technical situations, I chose to use the crimp-type Canare connectors in order to maintain a ‘true 75 ohm’ cable, end-to-end. This helps with video. IMHO, the solder-type work just as well in audio, but may present small problems in some video situations. Some say that the solder-type connector will maintain a better connection with the cable over the long term. On the other hand, I have never found a problem with properly made crimp-type connectors, some with BNC-type connectors that I have found in use for over a decade or two.

My solution to the varied speaker cable ‘physics’ problems has been to use Belden 8281 video cable, the outer (shield) conductor only, in pairs. 1: Resistance is quite small; only 1.1 ohm per 1000 feet! That means that fifty feet out and fifty feet back to a speaker, for a round-trip total of a 100 feet of this cable, will have only about a tenth of an ohm resistance. That’s not easy for standard speaker cable to match. 2: Inductance is small; the way this cable is used, no current is passed via the center of the cable where the effects of inductance are concentrated. That’s also hard for standard speaker cable to match. 3: Capacitance, already almost a non-issue, is reduced by the fact that each half of the cable pair is not held in tight proximity to its neighbor for the whole length of the cable run. These cables are not ‘thin and light,’ and the ends need some preparation to be used this way, but I like the results.

After all, getting the signal from one place to another with as little hindrance and alteration as possible is the goal.

Happy and safe cabling everyone!

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#23072 - 06/01/03 04:52 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
soundhound Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 1857
Loc: Gusev Crater, Mars
Yes, you're absolutely right about the importance of using the crimp connectors when making a video cable, thus maintaining the 75 ohm characteristic impedance. In my own system on equipment I build (a good deal of it) I use BNCs for audio connections because they are a much superior connector than the RCA.

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#23073 - 06/07/03 04:27 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
AGAssarsson Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 12/19/02
Posts: 144
Loc: Washington, DC, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by bestbang4thebuck:
For interconnects, I am using Belden 1694A video cable with Canare connectors. Because of my background in both video and audio technical situations, I chose to use the crimp-type Canare connectors in order to maintain a ‘true 75 ohm’ cable, end-to-end. This helps with video. IMHO, the solder-type work just as well in audio, but may present small problems in some video situations. Some say that the solder-type connector will maintain a better connection with the cable over the long term. On the other hand, I have never found a problem with properly made crimp-type connectors, some with BNC-type connectors that I have found in use for over a decade or two.

After all, getting the signal from one place to another with as little hindrance and alteration as possible is the goal.


I have a electrical engineer (EE) friend that works for a local broadcast studio here in Washington, DC. He has built his own A/V cable interconnects for special purposes to accommodate unique needs for his studio environments, and for home theater clients. I showed him SH's DIY cable primer, and he was very complementary.

He emphasized that for each A/V purpose, he considers the cable (including the type of termination) specifications for:
impedance
inductance
capacitance
velocity of propagation
shield construction and characteristics (including unavoidable proximity to sources of interference)
and the physical length, diameter, weight, flexibility and jacket (or wrap)

For those who do not build their own interconnects, or lack the expertise to select the right cable or terminations for their purpose, he suggested the source for much of the cable in his environment; AFAB Enterprises, Inc. (www.AVCable.com). This company sells specialty A/V cable to the broadcast industry for a small fraction of what equivalent (or often lesser) quality "boutique cable" sells for.

While I use Outlaw PCA interconnects between my 950 and 770 amp, I have used this cable for both component video, S-video, analog and digital audio interconnects, without complaint. They offer tremendous flexibility in cable and connector types. Custom cables can be ordered at only small incremental cost. They select cable from different manufacturers such as Belden and Gepco, and use RCA connectors by Canare.

I am interested to know what the gunslingers know about this company and/or its products. I may just have been lucky so far, but my experience has been very good. My EE friend believes that the product is of both excellent and consistent quality.

Also, the use of coax cable for analog audio (as opposed to twisted pair) has me curious. Do the Gunslingers have a preference for coax based on the specifications of the cable, or is it based on the something else, such as the ease of producing a quality DIY termination? Because "A/V Cable" also make a variety of balanced analog audio interconnects, they chose to use twisted pair cable for their unbalanced interconnects also. This seems like a topic that many of you might have strong opinions about.

I am NOT an electrical engineer, and I have not made my own interconnects. It seams clear to me, however, that cables built to their specific purpose, that optimize the characteristics for accurate signal transfer are both desirable, and can be purchased (or DIY built) for significantly less than the "Snake-Oil Industry" would want us to believe.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this most valuable, and money saving thread...

[This message has been edited by AGAssarsson (edited June 08, 2003).]

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#23074 - 06/09/03 03:57 PM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
bestbang4thebuck Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/20/03
Posts: 668
Loc: Maryland
Hello neighbors! Especially AGAssarsson and his EE buddy. ("bestbang4thebuck" works in DC ... in the technical side of video production.) Small world, ain't it?

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#23075 - 06/10/03 02:32 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
AGAssarsson Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 12/19/02
Posts: 144
Loc: Washington, DC, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by bestbang4thebuck:
Small world, ain't it?


I am recovering from the Devils fans thinking that they won the Stanley Cup, instead of the team itself... and then they booed JS Giguiere for winning the Conne Smithe Trophy (playoff MVP). It makes me think of so many who have great sound systems, but don't really like music too much. Homers with big egos, but no appreciation for the game.

I just finished a church in Laurel, MD, near where you live. It is on Riding Stable Road, 1/3 mile north of Route 198. It is called Bethany Community Church. They need some help with the future A/V system design and it would be great if you could stop in and check it out someday. The sanctuary is a good space, but they have limited resources. Please let me know if you want a tour someday.

I have enjoyed your posts.

Allan
QuestDakota@aol.com

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#23076 - 06/10/03 11:30 AM Re: HI- FI Interconnects - Fact or Fiction ?
bestbang4thebuck Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/20/03
Posts: 668
Loc: Maryland
Quote:
Originally posted by AGAssarsson:
It makes me think of so many who have great sound systems, but don't really like music too much.


I do enjoy the 'engineering' side, but once a 'system' is coming together, my hunger begins to include 'material and content.'

Musical instruments are, after all, technical in that they are an application of physics to produce musical sound. Once constructed, the 'art' is no longer mostly about the instrument, although still very important, but about the music being played. I enjoy both designing/constructing a system, and then I enjoy what the system 'brings to life.' (On some projects, the total visual and sound system is also something of an instrument and I enjoy 'playing' for the intended audience. In other situations, the system is as 'transparent' as possible, and I'm glad when that works.)

I guess I have strayed from the central topic of this thread, so I'll quit for now. And yes, we'll have to have 'tour' a few weeks from now ... wouldn't ya know, I've done some of that kind of work too! (Again: small world!)



[This message has been edited by bestbang4thebuck (edited June 10, 2003).]

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