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Cables with the greatest impact in your system
Analog Interconnect 20%  20%  [ 48 ]
Phono cable 10%  10%  [ 24 ]
Digital 3%  3%  [ 7 ]
Speaker 22%  22%  [ 52 ]
Power 19%  19%  [ 44 ]
None 26%  26%  [ 61 ]
Total votes : 236
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:04 pm 
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newmusic wrote:
I recently did some blind testing with several interconnect cables between my phono stage and pre amp. Copper QED was the least favourite but still very enjoyable, $400 Silver QED was next preferred but the difference was hardly noticeable. Slightly better, but again sonic difference was minimal at best, was $1200 Nirvana SX. $400 XLO was a matter of personal taste better than the rest, at least in terms of midrange and bass, others had more treble information and air, but also more raspy high freq noise. Sonic variation from the others was not minimal, it was very evident with this cable, at least compared to the first three that sounded almost the same despite the large price differences.
My audio engineer friend bought over his highly researched/tested personal diy interconnects (inexpensive), and to my chagrin these easily bested my expensive Nirvana's as well as everything else. Soundstage was bigger and more 3d, also the level of information and detail was greater.
But all our jaws just about hit the floor when we were listening to Omega Mikro's second from top o' the line interconnects (Planar Ebony active). These things were on another level and then some. So much more information that was being lost in the other cables. Everything was way fuller, detailed, and more complete, top to bottom. Soundstage and image was solid beyond belief. These things offered a larger improvement than any component upgrade I have ever done. Still shaking my head in amazement. Of course there is the issue of price at $2875US per meter. Plus the fact that these are jacket free micron thin ribbons, with a battery power supply to create a magnetic shield among other things. An octopus has less tentacles. But damn, me thinks these might be the best upgrade dollars Ive ever spent. Especially since I found a used pair for less than half price.
Try, try, try, before you buy. Then try some more.


Makes me happy that my EAR 912 is a line stage and a phono stage in one!!! 8)

Do they make a phono cable??? lol

I forwarded your post to my DIY friend...this was his response:

As I've said many times my experiments lead me to similar conclusions. Silver ribbons are the way to go and getting the plastic out of your cable jackets helps with clarity, tonality and speed as well as preserving the phase relationships of the signal better than other conductor geometries. The only thing I question is the "micron thin" claim. Sounds dubious to say the least. A micron is 1/100th the diameter of a human hair just for reference. All my experience tells me more gauge means a fuller richer sound to start with, but I don't see how such a thin conductor would not just melt once a reasonable amount of current was put through it. THe guy who makes the Klee cables claimed his new cables were made with "tinsel thin" silver ribbons. When they arrived they were almost exactly the same size and thickness of the Duelund wire I used on my USB and digital cables which works out to be a bit over 14 AWG. He uses 3 of them which is pretty close to the magic 9 AWG I've found sounds best with PCs and SCs. 14 AWG works well for interconnects. Never heard anything that uses "magnetic shielding". Not sure exactly how it works. Like Wynn I prefer my cables shielding free.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:58 pm 
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Voodoo Funk wrote:
newmusic wrote:
I recently did some blind testing with several interconnect cables between my phono stage and pre amp. Copper QED was the least favourite but still very enjoyable, $400 Silver QED was next preferred but the difference was hardly noticeable. Slightly better, but again sonic difference was minimal at best, was $1200 Nirvana SX. $400 XLO was a matter of personal taste better than the rest, at least in terms of midrange and bass, others had more treble information and air, but also more raspy high freq noise. Sonic variation from the others was not minimal, it was very evident with this cable, at least compared to the first three that sounded almost the same despite the large price differences.
My audio engineer friend bought over his highly researched/tested personal diy interconnects (inexpensive), and to my chagrin these easily bested my expensive Nirvana's as well as everything else. Soundstage was bigger and more 3d, also the level of information and detail was greater.
But all our jaws just about hit the floor when we were listening to Omega Mikro's second from top o' the line interconnects (Planar Ebony active). These things were on another level and then some. So much more information that was being lost in the other cables. Everything was way fuller, detailed, and more complete, top to bottom. Soundstage and image was solid beyond belief. These things offered a larger improvement than any component upgrade I have ever done. Still shaking my head in amazement. Of course there is the issue of price at $2875US per meter. Plus the fact that these are jacket free micron thin ribbons, with a battery power supply to create a magnetic shield among other things. An octopus has less tentacles. But damn, me thinks these might be the best upgrade dollars Ive ever spent. Especially since I found a used pair for less than half price.
Try, try, try, before you buy. Then try some more.


Makes me happy that my EAR 912 is a line stage and a phono stage in one!!! 8)

Do they make a phono cable??? lol

I forwarded your post to my DIY friend...this was his response:

As I've said many times my experiments lead me to similar conclusions. Silver ribbons are the way to go and getting the plastic out of your cable jackets helps with clarity, tonality and speed as well as preserving the phase relationships of the signal better than other conductor geometries. The only thing I question is the "micron thin" claim. Sounds dubious to say the least. A micron is 1/100th the diameter of a human hair just for reference. All my experience tells me more gauge means a fuller richer sound to start with, but I don't see how such a thin conductor would not just melt once a reasonable amount of current was put through it. THe guy who makes the Klee cables claimed his new cables were made with "tinsel thin" silver ribbons. When they arrived they were almost exactly the same size and thickness of the Duelund wire I used on my USB and digital cables which works out to be a bit over 14 AWG. He uses 3 of them which is pretty close to the magic 9 AWG I've found sounds best with PCs and SCs. 14 AWG works well for interconnects. Never heard anything that uses "magnetic shielding". Not sure exactly how it works. Like Wynn I prefer my cables shielding free.


Cool...the guy who brought over the Omega cables is an audio designer himself. Tell your friend to check out the Omega Mikro web site. The guy who runs/engineers the company has a background in high tech military stuff. The idea that I expressed about magnetic shielding may indeed be somewhat of a generalization or incorrect. I think things are explained in more detail on the web site.
But according to Omega, the thinner the ribbon the better the sound. The cables I now own were once the top model, but they have most recently created and even thinner ribbon, which apparently sounds even better, and is now the current reference model.
Yes micron thin could be a bit of a stretch. But the cables I own are indeed much thinner than tinsel. There is a very coarse mesh which somehow protects them from damage.

You could perhaps order a small strip of their wire to redo whats inside your pre/phono. The audio designer friend of mine who brought over the Omega cable has most recently designed a cd transport that is wired internally with the ribbon. It's the only transport that ive heard that betters my current reference player.


Last edited by newmusic on Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 5:42 pm 
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Argon66 wrote:
Thank you for your reply Underhill.
I did subsequently post my motivation for this poll knowing it has sparked such controversy.

As most of the threads Ive read in many forums drill down on specific brands or a specific topic area, I thought a comprehensive poll on the collective experience of the community would be insightful vs having to read multiple threads to piece it all together. In a nutshell I was curious where the community felt they received best bang for the buck so to speak...with a view that others may find this helpful too.

My intent was not to make this thread about me and my system specifically, but if folks are interested, I will gladly share my set up. I am mostly an analogue guy, but do have a big digital library too.

VPI Prime (centre weight and periphery ring)
Soundsmith Zephyr Star
Zesto Andros phono pre (connected by Morrow PH4)
Chord 2Qute DAC (connected by AG soundpipes)
Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe Preamp (connected by Morrow ma3)
Bryston 3B3 (connected by transparent cables...can recall the make...about $200 used)
Volent VL3 speakers (connected by 14/4 wire twisted at ends)
Power cables - all stock
No power conditioning
Some room treatment
Symposium rollerblocks under Zesto and Lamm

So for me personally...Ive reached my sweet spot with components, so now what...if anything? Speaker cables? Power conditioning? Power cables? Still have an itch to tweak


There are so many variables with an audio system,
that I think its difficult to make generalizations about cables.

Some equipment is hypertensive to cables - while other equipment
cables make a marginal difference.

Plus seeing a list of a system, people can see if there are any mismatches.
Cables won't fix a mismatched pieces.


Here a few completely unorganized comments

- What would you like to improve about your system ?

- good you see your speakers are well anchored to the floor with spikes.

- the Chord DAC and Lamm tube preamp are legendary
What tubes are you running in your Lamm preamp ?
I much prefer Amperex and Siemens vintage signal tubes over any Refleckor (Russian) made tube.

- even before you consider buying any cables - make sure the oxide is cleaned off any cable termination.
A tough and expensive lesson I learned is that the slightest bit of oxide on a cable
termination will cause harshness

- Forgive me for saying, but a concern is the partnering of a Bryston Amp with speakers that have metal diaphrams.
The 3Bsst and 4Bsst are bi polar amps - which are quite unforgiving bi polar amps.
However, I've been told the Bryston Cubed is quite special.
Also, the combination of a tube pre (like a BAT or ARC) with a Bryston is known to be excellent.

- In terms of buying power cords, its a bit concerning to see a $300 power cord
with connectors that retail for $7 each

- How long are your speaker cables ? Keeping speaker cable impedance low is important.

- are you running balanced cables between your Lamm pre and Bryston Powered ?


Last edited by Uunderhill on Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:50 pm 
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Just having regrets to making a cheeky response to this thread previously that a power cord made the most difference for "obvious" reasons. You know, like an on/off switch.

Anyway, although I haven't made many direct a/b comparisons of cables here is my personal belief- like quite a few others I feel that the lowest powered signal, in my case the MC phono cartridge, so tonearm wiring and the turntable to MC phono preamp cables would be most significant in their signal path performance and therefore have the most effect on the quality of sound.
Aside from same effect change on a smaller signal having a greater proportional effect there is also a smaller margin for em interference to be picked up. Good shielding makes sense for high quality phono cable.

There are certain metrics one must use to judge a cable depending on it's purpose. For example a digital cable needs to transmit a high frequency square wave, A power cable must not create AC interference with nearby signal cables. An interconnect or speaker cable should not significantly change path capacitance and add minimal resistance.

Some jobs are more sensitive than others.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:54 pm 
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Voodoo Funk wrote:

Probably not a good idea to discuss what any of your equipment costs. 8)



Yes you are correct. As long as you are getting perceived sonic value when you invest in an upgrade. It doesn't matter the amount of dollars you spend.
I was just as excited for every upgrade along the way of my decades long audio/music odyssey. From humble beginnings to my current setup.
Its all good when you love music.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:53 am 
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Thus far any surprises to anyone on the results?
I think for me it’s how we’ll power cables are doing.
Peaking my interest in a big way.

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Last edited by Argon66 on Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:24 am 
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Argon66 wrote:
Thus far any surprises to anyone in the results?
I think for me it’s how we’ll power cables are doing.
Peaking my interest in a big way.
Many people don't own a phono system. If everyone had one, the numbers would be overwhelmingly skewed differently.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:47 pm 
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ripblade wrote:
Argon66 wrote:
Thus far any surprises to anyone in the results?
I think for me it’s how we’ll power cables are doing.
Peaking my interest in a big way.
Many people don't own a phono system. If everyone had one, the numbers would be overwhelmingly skewed differently.


I’m personally into vinyl in a big way. And that was my choice.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:37 am 
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Argon66 wrote:
ripblade wrote:
Argon66 wrote:
Thus far any surprises to anyone in the results?
I think for me it’s how we’ll power cables are doing.
Peaking my interest in a big way.
Many people don't own a phono system. If everyone had one, the numbers would be overwhelmingly skewed differently.


I’m personally into vinyl in a big way. And that was my choice.



Yes, phono cable (cartridge micro signal levels only) would be number one with a bullet, on the poll.

Cable interference and cable signal considerations would be exceptionally easy to hear and mentally noted as a very real thing--quantified in their hearing and then a turning to being a known understood quality and issue...which...they will thereafter hear in everything..to one degree or another.

Since modern audiophiles don't have that experience they can't relate to some notable parts of the cable debate.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 10:56 am 
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Due to an eventual move that will require a longer headphone cable, on a lark and some on-line research, I picked up a 20' Audio Sensibility Impact SE headphone cable for my Sennheiser HD800 headphones. I currently have a pair of Cardas 10' headphone cables, which are vastly better than the stock Sennheiser cables. Well, to my surprise, the Audio Sensibility cable is much finer than the Cardas. There is much more detail with them than with the Cardas. Going back and forth, the Cardas now sounds veiled, and the finer details are somewhat muddied. Who knew? My applause to Audio Sensibility for their achievements.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:32 am 
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For me, as I have not changed my speaker cable, and been using the same interconnects, it would be digital. I went from an Audioquest cinnamon optical, to a Lifatec optical. Immediate night and day difference in the higher freq.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:11 pm 
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Well. I just picked up a pair of Kimber Cables from a super nice CAM member.
They will be replacing basic 14/4 cables. It the last set of wires to be upgraded in my system... aside from power cables.
I should Have them mid next week.
Really looking forward to the experience.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:12 am 
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I voted for phono cable, I'll explain the details a bit later. Fist some theory
Cable sonic differences have a bad rep because the theory underlining the their working principals is not wildly and completely understood so first let me share what, as a DIY cable constructor, I came to understand of It.
Cables conduct electric signal and as such are subjected to Ohm and Kirchhoff laws (Resistance, inductance and capacitance). However because signal cables are generally operated across a large frequency spectrum, 20 to 20khz, these laws appear to fall short of explaining everything. Two key effects are lacking to get the big picture. One is the skin effect and the other is dielectric polarization.
The skin effect forces the signal traveling in cable to be moved to the outside of the cable in response to an increase in frequency, hence low base notes travels in the whole cross-section of a cable and higher frequency notes travel in the outside circumference of the cable. Hence in a cable of a certain diameter, the low base notes travel through a larger area than the high frequency notes resulting in a cable that act as a low pass filter. The longer the cable the higher the effect.
One can certainly test this effect by making a 10 feet pair of speaker wire form regular nomex house cable, let say AWG 12. One would get nice base but would lack the high frequency details.
How does one compensate for skin effect?
One could a multiple of small wire (where the skin effect is low) and combine them to form a higher gauge wire (to lower the overall resistance), use litz wire, use flat or tubular conductor construction (this way all the frequencies travel in the same cross-section), or clad your core conductor with a conductor of higher conductivity (silver plated copper) so that the frequencies that travel at the outside of the conductor see less resistances.
What is dielectric polarization?
Consider the electric signal, as it travels in a conductor, it carries an electromagnetic field that travels around the conductor through the dielectric and any other matter present around the conductor. This dielectric or matte around the conductor comprises atoms made of charged particles namely protons and electrons. The electrons are free to moved around their atoms and are influenced by any field they are subjected to, in our case, the electromagnetic field generated by our signal traveling the conductor. Moving the electron around takes some energy, a very low amount but still some energy. Then after that the signal has passed the electrons will take back their original or statistical position, generating a field that is sent back into the signal. This produces some smearing of the signal and robs the music of fine details.
How does one compensate for dielectric polarization?
One would like to get rid completely of the dielectric. If you try the experiment above with the nomex wire, clear it of its insulation and try again making sure that the cables don't touch anything in their path, will you get anymore high frequency? No, skin effect is still present, but you'll get detailed base like you've never heard before More detailed attack, more sustain and longer decays against a silencer background.
Ok so if removing dielectric completely is not possible what do a DIY or a cable shopper looks for? Dielectric material that has low mass, foam dielectric, means to provide an air gap around the cable and means to space the cables themselfs from other cables, from the floor etc... A very good cable to start exploring these concepts is 22awg Tonecraft push back wire, the cotton dielectric provides lots of air pocket.

Keeping this in minds what is the cable that makes the most difference in my system? All cables are important and I DIY all my signal cables with this in mind. However the phono signal is the most important because not only it is of very low voltage but it is required to go through an equalization stage. If the signal is affected by skin effect or dielectric polarization it can't be equalized right!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:22 am 
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I cant argue anything you have said Dafhifi. Welcome to CAM. Excellent first post! I am currently reaping the sonic benefits of a thin ribbon interconnect cable that has no jacket, so virtually no dielectric issues and perhaps also as a result of the extreme thinness, minimal (if any), skin effect.
The improvement in every sonic parameter over my other not inexpensive, heavily jacketed and well insulated interconnects is nothing short of astonishing.
Perhaps your post can serve to illuminate cable skeptics and believers alike. Especially since you are approaching the issues from a modest capital outlay/diy perspective.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:07 pm 
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Speaker cables - I had dropped LARGE on a well known but highly overpriced name (back in 2003 when that was a much more narrow group) and in the process of selling them, got offered a trade of some cash and Nordost Valhalla's. IMMEDIATE huge improvement and, for the 1st time - I heard music vs stereo.

Next I would next vote IC's (location dependent) and finally - the most controversial but regardless, an important area - power cables (and of course, power conditioning).


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