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  1. #1
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    It's time to prioritize!

    If you were to place audio interconnects, coaxial cables, power cords, speaker cable in order from most to least important or influential on the quality of sound what order would you place them?

  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    High-to-low

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmoney
    If you were to place audio interconnects, coaxial cables, power cords, speaker cable in order from most to least important or influential on the quality of sound what order would you place them?
    Highest to lowest:
    • Speaker cable
    • Analog interconnects
    • Digital interconnects
    • Power cords
    In my opinion sheilding is the most important aspect that separates very cheap from decent cables. Shielding minimizes EMI/RFI which is important especially for digital components including switching, (class 'D'), amps. Balanced interconnects, when used with balance outputs on the source, inherently reject external noise. People seem to agree that coaxial is better than optical for digital connections, athough I can't say I've heard much difference.

    I'd say the best thing you can do with speaker cables is keep them short. This minimizes impedance and improves the amplifer's effective damping factor which provide tighter bass. Because I use monoblock amps, I can use 3 foot speaker cables at the expense of longer interconnects between my preamp and amps. Iin my case both the pre and amps are fully balanced and I use balance (XLR) interconnects.
    Last edited by Feanor; 02-07-2008 at 09:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    What he said!
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Highest to lowest:
    I'd say the best thing you can do with speaker cables is keep them short. This minimizes impedance and improves the amplifer's effective damping factor which provide tighter bass. Because I use monoblock amps, I can use 3 foot speaker cables at the expense of longer interconnects between my preamp and amps. Iin my case both the pre and amps are fully balanced and I use balance (XLR) interconnects.
    You're saying it's better to have shorter speaker wire runs and longer analogue interconnects, rather than the other way around?

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Yes

    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    You're saying it's better to have shorter speaker wire runs and longer analogue interconnects, rather than the other way around?
    Indeed. Of course it helps to have balanced outputs and XLR interconnects, but even with well-shielded RCA it will usually be the better approach.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Do you think that because speaker wires don't have shielding?

  7. #7
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Do you think that because speaker wires don't have shielding?
    And why do you think speaker cables aren't shielded? The cheaper ones aren't, although not effectively, good speaker wires are shielded at least as good as good interconnects...

    the best way is still to keep both runs (speakercable as well as interconnects) as short as possible.

    there are of course exeptions: I'd rather have 10 meters of top of the line Audioquest speakercables (which will then cost you around $50k or so) and a short run of Rat shack interconnects (costing you, maybe $10 or so), than vice versa.Because the speaker cable will be of considerable better quality than the interconnect. Of course, chances are pretty small that when you have the Audioquest speakercables, you'll be using the ratshack interconnects...

    I'm using 0.75m of Siltech MXT new york interconnects, and 2 metres of Kimber 4VS speakercables (per side). those are definately considered short runs...

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  8. #8
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    No

    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    Do you think that because speaker wires don't have shielding?
    I believe, as I said, that the resistance (impedance) of the speaker wire is the factor, plus, in general, that the electrical charateristics (resistance, capacitance, inductance) of speaker cable (which is heavier gauge than interconnects and therefore has higher values) is less of a factor with shorter lengths.

    I'm not sure I agree with basite that shielding is important for speaker wire, nor is it the case that most speaker wire is, in fact, shielded. From all I've read and heard, shielding is important to prevent EMI and RFI, (electromagnetic and radio frequency interference); these are primarily high frequency phenomenon in hunderds of kilohertz to gigahertz ranges. These interferences have the most negative effect on audio devices that use high frequency components internally, e.g. DACs, switching amplifiers, and of course, tuners. (I'm sure some people will disagree, though.)

  9. #9
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    I'm not sure I agree with basite that shielding is important for speaker wire, nor is it the case that most speaker wire is, in fact, shielded. From all I've read and heard, shielding is important to prevent EMI and RFI, (electromagnetic and radio frequency interference); these are primarily high frequency phenomenon in hunderds of kilohertz to gigahertz ranges. These interferences have the most negative effect on audio devices that use high frequency components internally, e.g. DACs, switching amplifiers, and of course, tuners. (I'm sure some people will disagree, though.)

    it's less important than with interconnects, also because the effect on the sound due to EMI and RFI with interconnects is bigger, this is because there is less power (signal) going through the interconnets, so the signal /'external radiation' influences ratio is lower than the ratio with speakercable.

    shielding is also ment to stop other external interferences, like static electricity, caused by the carpet where the speaker cable is on. I lifted my speaker cables of the ground once (using lego, they're about 10 cm from the ground, everywhere), and It made a subtle difference in the high frequencies.
    I think the biggest effect would be with a high sensetivity speaker. My speakercables aren't 'shielded' like my interconnects though, Kimber came up with this tri-braid idea, which basically cancels external interference, you could say this is somekind of a shielding...


    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
    Double Advent speakers
    Thiel CS2.3's
    *DIY Lenco L75 TT
    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
    *Denon DL-103 in midas body
    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
    Siltech MXT New york IC's
    Kimber 4VS speakercable
    Furutech powercord and plugs.

    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  10. #10
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    I doubt you get much static on a normal carpet..
    Other than that, i didn't realise speakers had shielding.
    Thanks for the info
    AA

  11. #11
    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Highest to lowest:
    • Speaker cable
    • Analog interconnects
    • Digital interconnects
    • Power cords
    I agree with that list if IC is balanced. But if not, IMO Interconnects takes more priority than speaker cables. IC signal strenght have 1/20th of speaker signal which mean cable shortcomings will have more effect on IC than speakers. Also cable capacitance should be kept minimum with IC cables as exessive capacitace associate with long IC can cause high frequcy attenuation.

    Also theoretically, IC cables are more susceptible to noise and interference than speaker cables due to the fact that high impedance input/outputs (such as RCA) can pick up noise more easily than low impednace input/output such as speakers connection. So that is main reason why most ICs are shielded, and speakers cables are not.

    That is not to say that speaker cables do not benifit from some type of protection. And that issue can be addressed by using type of speaker cables that have noise protection properties already built-in such as "star quad" configuration cables (Canare 4S11).

  12. #12
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Indeed. Of course it helps to have balanced outputs and XLR interconnects, but even with well-shielded RCA it will usually be the better approach.
    Unless you take the approach where there is no preamp - in which case it is desirable to minimize capacitance with short ICs to ensure no HF rolloff. Similarly, for some speakers impedance is not as critical as minimizing inductance and capacitance where the design of the cable is more important.

    I'm not saying you are incorrect, but what works best is system dependent. All of my cables are shielded.

    rw

  13. #13
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    As long as speaker runs aren't terribly long I have heard a larger difference with well shieled low inductance IC's. An overlooked, but important, part of IC's are the terminations and connections and I have found canare connectors to work extremely well and make a sonic difference. But, with that said I would much rather upgrade my equipment than dick around with cables. I am new to power cords. How do they, or let me rephrase that...do they make a difference?

  14. #14
    Dean
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    Please visit our website for information on cable design.

  15. #15
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmoney
    As long as speaker runs aren't terribly long I have heard a larger difference with well shieled low inductance IC's.
    Chances are you are referring to low capacitance interconnects. Inductance is more of a factor with speaker cables although the best have the lowest overall dielectric constant (product of L and C). The theoretical ideal would be 1 - my JPS Labs interconnects, for example, are about 1.12.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmoney
    I am new to power cords. How do they, or let me rephrase that...do they make a difference?
    They can, but are highly system and environment dependent. It is a form of power conditioning. I once had a most amusing correspondence here with a TV repairman who asserted (with underlines no less) that there was no possible way that a power cord could possibly make any audible difference. When I pointed out the various RFI shielding and active filtering strategies used by my cables, his first reaction was they were no longer power cords. I guess that is what happens when you possess no direct experience in the matter and rely entirely upon speculation. Another misconception is that somehow aftermarket cords are designed to somehow correct some deficiency with the local power sub station (that explanation was voiced recently by a poster here).

    The problem they are designed to address is RFI generated not miles and miles away, but entirely from within a modern house. Despite the basic filtering capability of most consumer audio power supplies, most in my experience cannot fully filter out the hash, either that which is spread through the AC in your house or directly radiated from digital devices like CD/DVD players, wireless phones, digital cable boxes, TiVos, computer routers/access points, refrigerators, and any kind of computer controlled appliance. Like most cable solutions, the improvements are indeed subtle and are of a nature that many folks don't notice or care. RFI induced garbage tends to add a false brightness and "hash" to the signal. The removal of said through sufficient active and/or passive shielding has the sonic effect of providing the audible equivalent of a blacker background. At first blush, things sound duller. If you regularly listen to loud, compressed music, it is likely you would not notice the difference or actually prefer the brighter hash. If, however, you listen to wide dynamic range material or listen at lower levels, then you begin to realize that you are able to retrieve more real detail.

    As with all things cable related, all you can do is try them out and see if they make a difference in your environment. Try before you buy. If they don't improve anything, don't buy. YMMV.

    rw

  16. #16
    Forum Regular O'Shag's Avatar
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    I am inclined to agree with Feanor and Estat is correct also, Speaker Cables are, for the most part, more sensitive to signal degradation than interconnects, however people are under the misconception that for excellent performance, the cables should be under six feet in length for both speaker cables and interconnects. I have read a detailed white-paper written by KEF engineers, where they stated that losses in cable occur when a cable's gauge is too small and the run-length is too great. There is a defined scale that has been determined based on gauge vs run-length, and it is interesting to observe how long a cable can be with no loss, given our obsession with super-duper short runs. According to engineering wisdom; given a good gauge size, say 12 gauge, the speaker cables could be 16ft or more in length with absolutely no roll-off or loss of signal, as long as shielding was well-designed. Also, with balanced interconnect cable runs, it is normal to see more than 30ft runs in professional applications. The balanced topology is very effective in safeguarding the signal from external interference. The determining factor, and one that for most applications is more important than keeping cables to one or two metres, is cable geometry, metallurgy, and shielding techniques. I've experimented with longer runs. I have a 20ft single-ended pair of Transparent MusicLink Ultra running from my DAC to my preamp (sometimes from my preamp to my amps). I have listened very carefully between a one metre pair of Ultras and this pair. I MAY have noticed a very very slight difference, but if so, it was tiny - and this after listening intently for an hour or so. And, if I am to be honest, its possible I was just hearing things.
    Last edited by O'Shag; 02-08-2008 at 08:26 PM.

  17. #17
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    I am looking for two interconnects to go from denon receiver ( preamp) to rotel 1080 amp and from cdp to denon. I found these monster THX certified IC'S for 16 dollars on amazon!!
    http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Cable-.../dp/B00006RVNS
    is that a good deal. I don't get why they are so cheap, were they bad cables when they came out? If link doesn't work type monstercable 1600 4 ultra interconnect and it will pop up on amazon. Thanks guys

  18. #18
    Dean
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    I will refrain from comments on other manufacturers.

    Our cables are likely beyond the money you are willing to spend but if you search the site you will get enough tips to build your own.

    We have no secrets.

    Solid core conductors provide a more linear signal than stranded wire.
    It has to do with the signal arriving at slightly different times.

    As mentioned you will find the info on our website educational if nothing else.

    Regards,

    Dean

  19. #19
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Not really

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmoney
    I am looking for two interconnects to go from denon receiver ( preamp) to rotel 1080 amp and from cdp to denon. I found these monster THX certified IC'S for 16 dollars on amazon!!
    http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Cable-.../dp/B00006RVNS
    is that a good deal. I don't get why they are so cheap, were they bad cables when they came out? If link doesn't work type monstercable 1600 4 ultra interconnect and it will pop up on amazon. Thanks guys
    I hope you're not so naive as to believe that you'd be getting a good deal because the MSRP is $49.99, or that the "THX" labeling has any real significance.

    They might work satisfactorally, but for 10 bucks more you can get Blue Jeans using Belden 1694A cable. I'd have more confidence in the Blue Jeans than the Monster.

  20. #20
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    Thanks feanor, just was wondering, everyone sends me bluejeans way so I will get them.

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