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#23846 - 09/05/07 01:37 AM Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
mdrconsult Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 05/27/07
Posts: 126
Loc: Austin, Texas
Hi Everyone,

I am wondering what all the fuss is about speaker wires! I have a friend who works at a HT store who is trying to convince me that I need to spend nearly $1000 to upgrade my L/C/R speaker wires. Thank God my surrounds have in wall wiring or I might need to re-finance the home to cover the cost of those wires. He is recommending the Audioquest CV8 with the 72v DBS. So this lead me to several questions.

How noticeable is the difference between $1000 worth of cable and a couple of hundred dollars?

What does the DBS really add? My understanding it is for noise rejection, but speaker wires carry high current low impedance signals which would require a rather large signal to provide any kind of distortion. Clearly any normal amounts of EMI or RFI would not be strong enough to introduce any distortion.

I did some A/B testing of different cables at his store. The biggest differences I heard were that the more expensive wires were louder then the cheaper wires given the exact same conditions, i.e. volume level on the amp. I assumed less resistance therefore more signal to the speaker so more volume. However, once the listening level were adjusted I really couldn't tell the difference. Then he hit me with the real kicker. He told me that the good cables were brand new and they were not broken in yet. Supposedly they would start to "open up" once they have a 100 hours or so on them. What kind of crap is that? I understand speakers take some time to loosen up and sound their best, but speaker wire can that really be true?

Then of course comes the issue of bi-wiring. Personally I have made up my mind on this one. I am a Sonus Faber fan and have been for many years. Franco Serblin (SF's chief engineer) decided to stop making their speakers with bi-wire connections several years ago. In fact he recommends that owners of the older SF speaker that did support bi-wiring not use bi-wires so that pretty much settles it for me as I am quite sure he knows a hell of a lot more about it then I do!

In general how much do you spend on speaker cables relative to your entire system? Again, the sales guy is advocating that you should spend at least 10% of the cost of your entire system on the speaker cables. Well I have just over $10K in my HT system so by his formula the $1K for wires is correct. It is not that I am opposed to spending money on my system it is just that I wonder if the money might be better spent in other areas?

And finally, what brand/type of speaker cables to you use? Any opinion on Audioquest wires? Are there any brands you recommend?

Thank You in advance to all those who would respond.

Regrds,
Mark D. Rodriguez
_________________________
Emotiva XMC-1, Outlaw 7500, Sonus Faber Olympica III Fronts, SF Liuto Center, SF Surrounds, LFM-1 EX, Oppo BDP-103D, Apple TV (Gen. 4), Mitsubishi 65" Diamond DLP, Outlaw Cables, PS Audio Power Quintet, Duet and power cords.

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#23847 - 09/05/07 02:17 AM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
tru blu Offline
Desperado

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 406
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Well, I'd never given any of it much thought until recently, but I went for Kimber Kables because they're s'posed to be a step up from Monster and I like their braided look. As for bi-wiring, I'd never done it until I replaced my Mirage Omnisat center with a Totem Acoustic Mite last week; it beefed up my modest music-only system in a pret-ty major way. I'm generally kind of a skeptic, but there's no arguing with results.
_________________________
This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun."
-Saul Williams

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#23848 - 09/05/07 03:22 AM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
tmdlp Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 01/15/06
Posts: 215
Loc: Big D, Tx
mdrconsult,
Speaker cables and interconnects can open a big can of worms as far as opinion. Some are money driven opinions (manufactures), some are ego driven opinions (us end users - got to have the best), and some of us (other manufactures and end users) are happy w/ good sound from quality made products.

My Thoughts:
-I break cables in when i get them connected into my system. .... a bend here .... rout them here.....
-I bought a pair of silver inter connects for my mains. It was a treat for me. It change the sound every so slightly. Would my friend hear the differnce on his theater in a box? no.
-Comparing physical properties - resistance, for example - is a good place to start.
-For me, i like bi-wire for my current setup (mains only).
-There are manufactures that create vocabulary - some technical sounding - to sell their product.
-Ask recording engineers about there interconnects and cables. They want to create the best recording possible. What do they use? It is not these exotic cables.
-go to audioholics.com , specifically the AV university and find cable interconnect section for more reading. There are some good articles debunking some of the myths.
- Blue Jeans cables and Signal Cables are just a couple of places on the web selling quality stuff at a reasonable prices.
-In the end, it is what you will feel satisfied with - sound wise, pocket book wise and your ego.

Later,
_________________________
later,
**************
Outlaw 990/7125, Oppo, Xbox 360, Paradigm (L/R/C), Polk (S), M&K Sub w/ SMS-1, Samsung LED-DLP HDTV, Signal Cable, Brickwall

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#23849 - 09/05/07 04:04 AM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
gonk Offline
Desperado

Registered: 03/21/01
Posts: 14054
Loc: Memphis, TN USA
You'll find an endless array of opinions here, so I'll offer mine with the caveat that it's one of many: there are cheap cables, good cables, and snake oil cables.

I played around a little bit with speaker cables a number of years ago, spent more than I probably should (the cables on my front three probably cost me $400 total, maybe a bit more). In addition to those cables (an Australian brand called TMC that I picked up used on Audiogon here and there), I also tried some BetterCables and a loaner set of Transparent Music Wave Super's (latter being worth over $1000 at retail for a two-meter pair). I've also bi-wired and am still doing so because I found some subtle improvements (and because I've got the cables anyway at this point) but I think that as long as good cables and (for bi-wirable speakers) good jumpers are used it's hard to make a real definitive argument in favor of bi-wiring. While I feel very comfortable knowing that I don't have any worries about my cables' shielding, resistance, or impedance after the tinkering that I did over the course of a year or two, I also came away feeling that I'd explored deeply enough to rub the shine off of the notion of exotic cabling. Those pricey (at least by my standards) speaker cables are the last cables I've bought that didn't come from either Outlaw, Blue Jeans Cables, or MonoPrice (a handy source for really long optical cables).

The notion of basing cabling cost on system cost is pretty suspect to me. I'd counter that it's best to buy the cables that are appropriate to your need. In the online market, I've had very good luck with everything I've gotten from Blue Jeans Cables - they're a no-nonsense sort of outfit that use quality materials at a fair price. I've also bought from BetterCables, but I felt that starting somewhere around the time of the Silver Serpent line they started moving away from their original intent (which was to do what Blue Jeans Cables does - make good quality cables at a good price with no marketing fluff).
_________________________
gonk
HT Basics | HDMI FAQ | Pics | Remote Files | Art Show
Reviews: Index | 990 | speakers | BDP-93

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#23850 - 09/05/07 07:59 PM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
mdrconsult Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 05/27/07
Posts: 126
Loc: Austin, Texas
Well I must Thank tmdlp for his referral to the audioholics.com web site. I went there and I have read several of the articles. I found them to be very professional, well written and most importantly very believable! I started my professional career as a research scientist for IBM many years ago. I have written and published many scientific papers so I can really appreciate the professionalism that they put into their articles. I have always been some what of a rebel and on occasion have broken a few laws, however not I nor anyone else (to my knowledge) has ever broken the laws of physics! You see to me this all comes down to the science. If the science isn't there then all the hype these vendors are spewing is nothing more than marketing BS!

After reading these articles and the previous in store demos I have come to the conclusion that all those high dollar speaker wires are just a scam! I am going to stick with the cables I already have as I am quite satisfied the sound right now.

In fact I think what I am going to do with the $1000 I would have spent on cables is possibly look at a different center speaker. I read the article about center speakers, Vertical vs Horizontal Center Speaker Designs , and it has made me reconsider the center channel that I am using. Even prior to reading the article I had noticed some off axis performance degradation. Oh well there is always some thing more to tweak now isn't there!

Again, Thanks everyone for your comments.

Regrds,
Mark D. Rodriguez
_________________________
Emotiva XMC-1, Outlaw 7500, Sonus Faber Olympica III Fronts, SF Liuto Center, SF Surrounds, LFM-1 EX, Oppo BDP-103D, Apple TV (Gen. 4), Mitsubishi 65" Diamond DLP, Outlaw Cables, PS Audio Power Quintet, Duet and power cords.

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#23851 - 09/06/07 01:25 AM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
Guido Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 06/22/06
Posts: 46
Loc: Northern Virginia
In my opinion, a high quality copper cable of adaquate gauge for the distance with mechanically sound (no pun intended) terminations is important. I personally have heard differences between bi-wiring and regular. Bi-wiring sounded different but not better. I do not think you can go wrong w/ Blue Jeans 10 gauge twisted pairs. I use these for my center and surrounds. I use Signal's ultra twisted pair for my mains. Nothing bi-wired. I went with the Signal because they were 1: reasonably priced 2: looked good 3: made very well. I think I spent about $150 for all. I could have spent 1/2 that if I used the Blue Jeans for everything, but I "feel" better with a higher-end pair on the mains. I think the Monster cables are loaded with very high octane advertising gas. Not saying they are bad, just over priced for what you get. I have never heard anyone say that you need to tithe to the cable makers. Salesmen usually work on commission and wire "add-ons" usually have 100-200% mark ups and pay a very hefty commission. It's not unusual for a salesman to make more on the cable part of the sale than the actual hardware.
_________________________
Outlaw 990-7500, OPPO BDP-83, Main L&R: B&W DM604s3, Rears: B&W DM602s3, Ctr: B&W LCR600s3, Velodyne SPL1200R, Outlaw, Signal, Blue Jeans Cables, Sony 52W4100 LCD, Harmony One

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#23852 - 09/07/07 08:51 PM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
Videodrome Offline
Desperado

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 325
Loc: Fairfax Station, VA
Much has already been said, so I'll try not to cover the same ground again.

I would add, however, that if you're willing to DIY, it can really lower your cost. Having previously been on the retail side of the hobby, I can tell you that much of what you pay for in cables (especially interconnects) relates to labor. Hence one of the reasons 1/2 meter pairs are not 50% less expensive than 1 meter pairs. Also, the margins for wire are on the order of 60+%. In other words, dealer cost is less than half of retail. Manufacturer cost is probably half of that. That speaks to the issue about salesman incentives in the previous post --I typically got 5-7% commission on equipment, but 10% commission on accessories like cables because of the more favorable margins.

Lastly, this is one of those really touchy topics with audio hobbyists. On one extreme, you have guys who think an old lamp cord is just as good as the boutique stuff -- and will jump down your throat if you suggest otherwise. On the other side of the spectrum, you have guys who fork out huge sums of money on cables and won't bat an eye about paying $1,000 per meter for a pair of interconnects, or even more for speaker cables. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Lastly, some cables will sound better than others on your system, depending upon your associated equipment and/or the level of resolution. This I saw proven again and again; both in systems in the store, my own, and from testimonials from countless customers.

It used to be you could borrow a few cables from your bricks and mortar hifi store and experiment until you found something you liked. You may want to see if they will let you audtion at home before buying.
_________________________
Outlaw 970
McCormack DNA-125 (mains), Emotiva LPA-1 (surrounds)
Quad 11L (F&C) Wharfedale (R) LFM1 (Sub) w/ SMS-1
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Video: Hitachi 42HDS52A; Oppo 971H
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#23853 - 10/31/07 01:46 AM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
nanogizmo Offline
Deputy Gunslinger

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 14
outlaws;
re; speaker and other interconnects. i do high-end residential construction and many years ago was installing built in audio in a home. the electrician ran solid core current cable to the speakers; some runs were up to 50 feet. being a bit of an audiophile i questioned this, but since he had a degree in electrical engineering, i let him proceed. curious, i asked a friend, who was literally a rocket scientist with degrees in engineering and atomic physics. he said solid cable would actually be superior to any braided cable for audio signals, because resistance and signal distortion occur primarily at the surface of the conductor. many individual conductors equals greater resistance and signal distortion. the drawback to solid cable vs. stranded is of course that solid cable isn't very malleable, and so manufacturers have tried to improve conductance characteristics by offering fat (fat$$) cables to audiophiles. the hydraulic analogy applies, and common sense. what is going to more efficiently conduct water; a single 1" hose or or a bundle of 1/64" hose? (think friction and turbulence). to further quell doubts about this, just take a look at the conductors inside your very pricey gear.... in sum, anything larger than ten gauge is a waste of copper, air to your ego, and an insult to intelligence. same for wires with gold and silver tips. true outlwas have a name for this out on the range; BULL%&IT.

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#23854 - 10/31/07 04:54 PM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
BloggingITGuy Offline
Desperado

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 446
Loc: Beaverton, Oregon
Problem with solid core cable, at least in my mind, particularly at large gauges would be getting a connector on it.

I prefer banana plugs for ease of connection and for giving a good mechanical connection and you'd have to either solder a banana to solid core or some how mechanically crimp it...not something I'd want to do on my own, whereas with multistrand you can use twist connect connectors.

Also you could argue that on the connection points multistrand gives you more contact area than a solid core cable would.

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#23855 - 11/02/07 07:56 AM Re: Speaker Wires; Do high $$ wires really make a difference?
nanogizmo Offline
Deputy Gunslinger

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 14
i reckon, ITGuy, your comment re connectors on solid core conductors. though i s'pose bare wire'd work jess fine on binding posts. i've never actually tried it. i'm anxiously awaiting all-new gear; the 970/7075 combo with magnepan mmg-w, and a mini hsu sub. maybe i'll try solid core while i'm messing around with speaker placement. if it sounds good, i'll report. wouldn't it be a hoot if plain old 12 ga. THHN proved superior to monster cable. i'd have a posse of audio salesmen on my tail fer sure. basically, though, i think i'd trust the opinion of my old partner the rocket scientist over that of an audio salesman any old day. the salesman my be faster on the draw with a quick sales pitch, but a physicist will definitely be closer to reality. and as wyatt earp said; "fast is fine, but accuracy is everything"

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