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Thread: Using Cables as Tone Controls

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    Using Cables as Tone Controls

    Using Cables as Tone Controls

    In some discussions over at AK, one member has repeatedly discussed his use of various cables as Tone Controls. After reading his posts and results, and coming accross a pair of ICs that I have had for some time now, I was able to tame a particular setup by using this set of cables between my OPPO93, which I think lacks bass output in Analog mode, and my Rotel 1052 Integrated.

    When I first got the OPPO, I posted my impressions here as well as in the Official thread at AVS. I got various responses around break-in and related gear, but nothing about cabling.

    Secondly, this setup using the OPPO for CD playback driven by the Rotel feeds a pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s, which like most lower level JMs or Focals lack deep bass. Distinct and detailed yes, just no extension.

    A few weeks ago I had to re-arrange a few components in my rack due to the Integra 30.3 giving off lots of heat with no room above it in the 7" shelf. While re cabling everything back up, and not even remembering where this set of ICs were, I decided to put them in the main setup between Pre and Amp in place of the regularly used Synergistic Research ICs. I did not like the sound compared to the Synergistic cables. Dark and bassey and lacking a little of the detail I was used to. I removed the ICs and put the SRs back to regain my expected sound.

    Next, since I got my Hafler Pre-Amp repaired and back in place in the gym along with it's 9180 amp driving a pair of Polk Monitor 30s, I tried the cables there again between pre and amp. Way too much base output and I ended up using the tone controls, Bass all the way down and Treble all the way up to compensate.

    So after my discussions over at AK, I decided to try the cables in my OPPO Rotel setup. All I can say is WOW, they solved 2 problems. The OPPO is no longer shy on bass and neither are the JMs. I put a pair of Tara Labs Quantum CX ICs in the Hafler setup and ended up with a much mellower sound without too much bass.

    So what are the cables that did so much magic in my system? A pair of Groneberg Series 3 ICs made in Germany and purchased through Odyssey way back when I bought my Stratos Amp. By the way, they use the same cable for the internal wiring of all Odyssey amps which may contribute to the bass output they give, who knows.

    Anyway, I just decided to look at the Odyssey page and found an interesting blurb;

    ""As a matter of fact, these cables, and especially the Quattro Reference cables for their specific price/performance ratio is so good that we decided to use only Groneberg cables in our Stratos amplifiers exclusively. Klaus Bunge

    Designed and manufactured in Germany, this cable offers a very high value and performance. No need to use different cables for different signals. Patented Groneberg design (DE 43 36 230 C1) in TS Premium and Quattro Reference models solves the problem and cable can be configured for different purposes: IC, Idigital cooax, loudspeaker cable and power cord. One cable to rule them all.

    Do not be reluctant to give this cable a try, maybe there are better ones, but they are much more expensive, and cheaper competitors stay far behind from the performance Groneberg cable achieves. Several reviews in Germany and Europe have rated this cable over products from other famous brands, you'll be surprised.

    Groneberg Quattro Reference: Patented design for optimized and constant electron flow • Four conductor lines • Stabilizing inner core • Shielding braid • Excellent soundstage, detail and deep bass reproduction • Harmonics coherent • delicate and revealing mids & highs • Excellent voice reproduction • 530 pF/m • Propietary jacket formulation.

    Groneberg Serie 3: Stripped version of Quattro Reference • Shielding braid • Open and detailed sound • Good bass extension • Slightly warm sound • 240 pF/m • Propietary jacket formulation. ""

    Anyone here have a similar experience? Speaker cable or ICs? I don't notice as much of a drastic change in speaker cables between two quality constructed similar pairs as I do between various ICs.

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    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    I think cables can make a difference in your system. I once purchased a pair of IC's that were made from silver coated copper. At first I was pleased with the midrange and female vocalists. In two weeks I could not stand to listen to my stereo. Recently using my AntiCables I loved them when I first received them. Later when I twisted them I began to miss instrumental textures and the cables gave a glassy sound. Now that they are untwisted I am very happy with them again.

    Cables can be used as tone controls and sometimes add tones you did not want.
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    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post
    Using Cables as Tone Controls
    Strictly speaking, I think that is a bad idea. Having said that, there certainly is great variance in the perceived sound of all sorts of cabling. I think the most important aspect is matching. Evaluating a cable by itself it virtually useless. A cable becomes part of the system between the two attached devices and affects both. One of the reasons basic red and white cabling sounds poor is because it has high capacitance. I've measured some at around 250pf / meter! Depending on the interaction, a high value can cause dullness or with others it can cause HF ringing.

    The best cabling I've heard has a very low dielectric constant (capacitance x inductance), good shielding and solid connectors. Speaker cabling is fundamentally no different and depends upon the speaker and what's driving it.

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    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat View Post
    Strictly speaking, I think that is a bad idea. Having said that, there certainly is great variance in the perceived sound of all sorts of cabling. I think the most important aspect is matching. Evaluating a cable by itself it virtually useless. A cable becomes part of the system between the two attached devices and affects both. One of the reasons basic red and white cabling sounds poor is because it has high capacitance. I've measured some at around 250pf / meter! Depending on the interaction, a high value can cause dullness or with others it can cause HF ringing.

    The best cabling I've heard has a very low dielectric constant (capacitance x inductance), good shielding and solid connectors. Speaker cabling is fundamentally no different and depends upon the speaker and what's driving it.

    E-Stat... after reading much of you keen insightful postings over at Audioasylum I know you certainly know more about our hobby than I, but I don't think its altogether a bad idea.

    One can certainly use cables to tone his system weather it be too bright or too boring. I've certainly found cable and speaker wire that I find does a fine job letting all the detail through and giving me a tone I love.

    I too have discovered that cabling and speaker wire is just like the many components that make up our system. That is why I use the same speaker wire and interconnects as well as phono cabling from the same series and manufacturer. It acts as one single component.
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    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    E-Stat... after reading much of you keen insightful postings over at Audioasylum I know you certainly know more about our hobby than I, but I don't think its altogether a bad idea.

    One can certainly use cables to tone his system weather it be too bright or too boring.
    I agree with E-Stat. It is a bad idea

    Considering that job of a cable is to transfer signal from point A to point B with minimum loss and attenuation, then it is not doing its job if in any way effect the signal it is carrying...even if it is for better.

    Cable signature is undesirable effect in electronic world and cable will be labeled defective if have any type of signature (good or bad).

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    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    ...use cables to tone his system weather it be too bright or too boring.
    I'm not sure how any cable can "fix" a boring system. Sure, you can rob the top end (along with resolution) with cheap cables for sure. I just think there are better ways to handle brightness.

    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    I too have discovered that cabling and speaker wire is just like the many components that make up our system. That is why I use the same speaker wire and interconnects as well as phono cabling from the same series and manufacturer. It acts as one single component.
    There's certainly nothing wrong with that approach.

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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    After recently purchasing a few different pairs of IC's, I can see how you can make changes in your system's sound with cables. The Audio Nirvana cables have rolled off highs and a warmer sound. The Tara Lab cables that I have produce deeper bass and extended highs and are more musical. The top end is too hot for my system though. My reference cable are my Blue Jean Cables which have the most even sound. My favorite cable is my AudioQuest Corals from HCM audio. They lean on the warmer side and have a smoother high end than the BJC's. These changes are not subtle and are readily apparent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey View Post
    I agree with E-Stat. It is a bad idea

    Considering that job of a cable is to transfer signal from point A to point B with minimum loss and attenuation, then it is not doing its job if in any way effect the signal it is carrying...even if it is for better.

    Cable signature is undesirable effect in electronic world and cable will be labeled defective if have any type of signature (good or bad).
    And you have experience with cables now or just what you have read?

    A cable with a signature sound is no different than a brand of receivers or amps with a "House Sound" such as Rotel gear.

    A cable that seriously degrades the sound would be defective. I don't think my Synergistic cables are defective and I love what they do for the sound of my main system. When you save up enough to get some higher end gear you can then see for yourself that everything you read and all the DBT Naysayer camp stances may not always be the gospel.

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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Here's a question for thought. How do you know if a cable or piece of equipment is giving the right sonic signature? There is no right answer! Every piece of gear does impart some sonic signature. When music is recorded and mixed, it is on different gear and tuned to a particular sound on that gear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Here's a question for thought. How do you know if a cable or piece of equipment is giving the right sonic signature? There is no right answer! Every piece of gear does impart some sonic signature. When music is recorded and mixed, it is on different gear and tuned to a particular sound on that gear.
    That is exactly why we have so many options and cables and tweaks to get the sound to just as each of us like it.

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    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Here's a question for thought. How do you know if a cable or piece of equipment is giving the right sonic signature?
    The way my reviewer friends attack this question for really any component under review is to use it with different systems to get a better feel for what that component's signature is.

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    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    I certainly choose cables based on how my system sounds when they are in use. I have a pair of AlphaCore speaker cables that I love in the bass and mids but where are the highs? If I had bright electronics I might need them. Thinking about this topic I do think I use cables as tone controls but like tone controls I used them sparingly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael View Post
    I think cables can make a difference in your system...
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael View Post
    I certainly choose cables based on how my system sounds when they are in use.
    How do you like the CAST cabling system on your Krell gear? Have you had the chance to compare it to standard analog interconnect L/R cables? Just curious because I always wondered if they delivered any sonic benefits other than plain convenience. Never had any experience with them myself.

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    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHills44060 View Post
    How do you like the CAST cabling system on your Krell gear? Have you had the chance to compare it to standard analog interconnect L/R cables? Just curious because I always wondered if they delivered any sonic benefits other than plain convenience. Never had any experience with them myself.


    I only have a Krell integrated amp so no need for the CAST IC between the pre-amp and power-amp. I have the Marantz SA 8001 so no balanced IC's are needed.
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    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post
    And you have experience with cables now or just what you have read?
    Well Hyfi, that is just common knowledge. Cable signature is a no-no and quality cable makers such as Belden strive to minimize that effect. However some audio cable companies seem to ignor that fact and concentrate on cable signature and sound and charge premium for it.

    A cable with a signature sound is no different than a brand of receivers or amps with a "House Sound" such as Rotel gear.
    This is where most poeple faulter as there is s a difference between cables and components. Cables are passiive and their job is to transfer signal. While components are active and their job is to amplify the signal. The latter might add its own signature when amplifying the signal, while the former should transfer the signal without any alterations.

    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Here's a question for thought. How do you know if a cable or piece of equipment is giving the right sonic signature?
    To achieve right sonic signature (or transparency) in your system, your approach should be objectively rather than subjectively.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey View Post
    Well Hyfi, that is just common knowledge. Cable signature is a no-no and quality cable makers such as Belden strive to minimize that effect. However some audio cable companies seem to ignor that fact and concentrate on cable signature and sound and charge premium for it.



    This is where most poeple faulter as there is s a difference between cables and components. Cables are passiive and their job is to transfer signal. While components are active and their job is to amplify the signal. The latter might add its own signature when amplifying the signal, while the former should transfer the signal without any alterations.



    To achieve right sonic signature (or transparency) in your system, your approach should be objectively rather than subjectively.
    Great in theory but in today's real world, Cables are now a Component and can be worked with as such. There have been some good discussions on the topic at AK recently.

    Here is a set of questions posed and one person's answers.
    <<<
    Originally Posted by robgmn
    CAN a difference in cables exist? Yes, better question is, can two different cables be the same?

    SHOULD a difference in cables exist? Absolutely.

    If differences exist, WHY do they exist? Different cable topologies and materials.

    CAN differences be measured? Yah shore, yew becha!

    CAN we hear things that cannot be measured? Highly doubtful, if you know what to measure.

    CAN things be measured that we cannot hear or sense? Yah shore, yew betcha!

    CAN two things that are measured to be identical be proven to be perceived as different? Yes, if your measurements aren't extensive enough.

    Can perception be verified with scientific testing (NOT belief; actual perception)? Yes, but it is rather painful (you must be conscious while the anal plug is inserted and removed).

    - Have you ever tried different cables in your system? Yes, I have.

    - Please describe cables (make/model or if DIY how constructed). You're kidding, right? Way too many to list.

    - Did you hear a difference? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
    - What are your reference components? Lots of stuff.

    - Do you have any hearing issues that may impact your ability to detect differences. Age, and it isn't getting any better. Albeit, this is only a minor handicap.>>>

    I suggest that when you score some gear capable of letting these differences show you do some experimenting on your own.

    The whole premise of my post was that one CAN use cables to tame or enhance a system's lacking or overbearing characteristics. NOT should it or shouldn't it because the facts are, it does.

    With your thinking, nobody should need an Equalizer either and while many use them for room correction, just as many or more know nothing about room correction and they use them to boost or cut the treble or bass.

    Let me complete the sentence

    To achieve right sonic signature (or transparency) in your system, you need to have highly transparent and resolving gear along with the right match of cables to suit ones own tastes in the sound of their setup.

    This can rarely be done with a computer, TV, and $50 DVD players using Black & Reds.

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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Smokey, my question for you is how do you know which cable has the right sound as it was intended to be at the time of the recording. Cables and equipment sound different and we all have a personal likes and dislikes. What sounds good to me may sound like crap to you. For example, I love the Magenapan sound and RGA does not.

    As for you comment about transparency, all the cables that I have convey transparency but the differences have mainly to do with warmth, general tone, high frequency extension, sibilance and bass.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Smokey, my question for you is how do you know which cable has the right sound as it was intended to be at the time of the recording. Cables and equipment sound different and we all have a personal likes and dislikes. What sounds good to me may sound like crap to you. For example, I love the Magenapan sound and RGA does not.
    His comments were typical Nay Sayer with no real world experience comments. All theory and no practical experience. Anyone can repeat that stuff like a parrot but only those who choose to experiment will know the real answers.

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    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    I agree it would be nice to test cables in multiple systems to find a neutral cable. Of course at the end of the day it is still about how the cables interacts with your system. A cable that sounds neutral in several systems could be less than neutral between your amp and speakers.

    My Krell S-300i is more neutral than other int. amps I have owned. When I had the original Cambridge Audio 640A I tried different cables trying to improve the sound. I almost wonder if like electronics, cables become more neutral as you step up a cable makers line?

    I do find it interesting that when I read cable reviews they do mention when a cable would work better in a bright system or better in a warm system.
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    @Hyfi, thanks for sharing your cable experience with Odyssey products. As I am looking to do something different with a power cable I will have to check out Odyssey.
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    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post
    Great in theory but in today's real world, Cables are now a Component and can be worked with as such.
    Premisses of cable has not changed over a century. Although we have better material to build a cable, but functionality of cable has not changed. The concept here is that best cables are "soundless". Treated any other way and we are led into slippery slope...such as using an extension cord for speaker cable

    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Smokey, my question for you is how do you know which cable has the right sound as it was intended to be at the time of the recording.
    To hear the intended sound of recording, your cable should be "soundless". Since every record sound differenet and your system might have its own signature, then the best approach to cable would be to choose the ones that are most transparent. And as it was said before, that can be better achived objectively rather than subjectively.

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    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Smokey...answer me this question please. I have a Marantz AVR. When I use silver interconnects, the sound becomes brighter with more extended high frequencies and less bottom end . When I use copper on that same AVR, the sound is more neutral. The same happens with those same cables on my Musical Fidelity CDP. Would you say the interconnects changed the sound? OR am I just imagining things?

    Also, smokey...what soundless cable do you use in your system. I may want to try it myself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    Smokey...answer me this question please. I have a Marantz AVR. When I use silver interconnects, the sound becomes brighter with more extended high frequencies and less bottom end . When I use copper on that same AVR, the sound is more neutral. The same happens with those same cables on my Musical Fidelity CDP. Would you say the interconnects changed the sound? OR am I just imagining things?

    Also, smokey...what soundless cable do you use in your system. I may want to try it myself.
    Oh but it's just common knowledge that Silver is brighter than Copper, I'm sure he read that too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    Smokey...answer me this question please. I have a Marantz AVR. When I use silver interconnects, the sound becomes brighter with more extended high frequencies and less bottom end . When I use copper on that same AVR, the sound is more neutral. The same happens with those same cables on my Musical Fidelity CDP. Would you say the interconnects changed the sound? OR am I just imagining things?
    First you have to tell me if both silver and copper ICs are made same wire guage, with same material and geometry? Some sliver ICs are made thiner with no sheild vs their copper IC counterpart.

    Also, smokey...what soundless cable do you use in your system. I may want to try it myself.
    Although I use ordinary Radioshack speaker wire, my first choice for quality speaker cable would be 14 AWG Canare 4S11 (Star Quad) speaker cable. They are good for noisey enviroment due to its unique geometry, and use poly dielectric.

    Last edited by Smokey; 05-18-2012 at 08:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey View Post
    Premisses of cable has not changed over a century. Although we have better material to build a cable, but functionality of cable has not changed. The concept here is that best cables are "soundless". Treated any other way and we are led into slippery slope...such as using an extension cord for speaker cable



    To hear the intended sound of recording, your cable should be "soundless". Since every record sound differenet and your system might have its own signature, then the best approach to cable would be to choose the ones that are most transparent. And as it was said before, that can be better achived objectively rather than subjectively.
    That extension cord would be way better than the little wires all connected over a 70 foot run I have.

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