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  1. #1
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    What kind of speaker wire should I use?

    I just purchased the THX certified Onkyo 705 which is capable of Dolby TRUEHD, I also bought two NHT Classic Fours and am in the process of buying two NHT Classic Threes. My question is, what kind of speaker wire should I use to wire this? Looking between 100-400, room is 10x15. If I must pay more than I must, but I want to make it sound the best I can for the best price if you know what I mean. Thanks!

  2. #2
    PDN
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    There are so many brands and choices out there. You should bi-wire. I checked these speakers on-line and they are bi-wireable. Your room being 10' x 15' and assuming you set up your A-V receiver in the center of the longer 15' wall and these speakers are located in the the corners worst case for distance, each speaker wire run will be approx 9' allowing for routing the wires up to the receiver, down to the floor and over to the 2 speakers. Just a guess. So 18' of speaker cable with a budget let's say $250.00 (median between $100.00 & $400.00), that's about $14.00/ft. You can buy very good high end bi-wireable speaker cable at this price. Popular brands out there in the high end include Shunyata, Kimber Kable, Audioquest, Cardas, Blue Jeans Cable, and Tara Labs to name a few. Even some of the higher end bi-wireable Monster Cable will produce great sound for you. Tough to make one particular brand recommendation but I'd go visit several hi-fi stores, explain your application and budget, and let them make some recommendations. Write them down, listen to them, then make a final decision.

  3. #3
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    You might want to read some of the other threads here.

    There are varying opinions (no proven facts) but you can rest assured that the point of diminishing returns for speaker wire is a lot lower than botique cable manufacturers want you to believe.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Go with Bluejean cable with unterminated (bare wire) ends and save a ton of money. They sell the spade and banana plugs that you can place on the wires yourself. Or you can pay lots more and buy them already terminated. Its very good wire and comes in 10g and 12g. They also make a biwire which is of very questionable benefit.

    By the way, give us a review on the NHT Classic 4's. I've heard them in stores along with the 3's and really like them. They have a nice warm sound with excellent bass.
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  5. #5
    PDN
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    Today I made my decision and purchased Tara Prism Klara bi-wire speaker cable at $4.00/ft. I comprimised. Not expensive but yet not the lower end either. Sort of right in the middle. My runs are long in the 20' to 30's area so I spent several hundred dollars. Just finished connecting them in and removing my Monster XP non bi-wired arrangement. Well sitting here tonight listing to Four Play, Horace Silver, and Al Jarreau, my ears don't lie. The slam, the soundstage, the bass guitar licks, all just sound so much more alive and right in my face. There's no disputing it. Sound is fabulouts. Why limit your speakers with low end of speaker wire but no need to spend great amounts either. For me, I was willing to go as high as $6.00/ft but I ended up at $4.00/ft. Each upgrade means greater sound. So you don't have to go to the $10.00 to $15.00/ft speaker wire. But I would bi-wire. If your speakers are bi-wireable, why not utilize that feature? I'm highly impressed iwth these Tara Lab cables. Great on-line reviews too.

  6. #6
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    Before anyone else runs out and spends several hundred dollars or much more on speaker wire please read this. Some of the article is a little dated but it is still 100% applicable. It is normal to imagine one hears lots of differences after spending lots of money. 99% malarkey! 50% or higher profit margin for the dealer.

    http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm

    RR6

    PS: If you don't have time to read the entire article allow me to quote one of the jewel paragraphs from Mr. Russell:

    .........."We have been told by advertising that the exotic speaker wires offer fabulous advantages over ordinary lamp cord. It would seem reasonable that using this same wire for lamps would also enhance their performance. In the same vein as wire literature, you can have your lamp reproduce light with the full spectrum color fidelity of natural daylight, finally allowing you see light the way it should be seen and bring out the natural performance of your lamp. It could offer greater warmth, detail, brilliance, definition and speed by providing wider bandwidth and reduced skin effect. It can provide a distortion free illumination that reduces eye strain, resulting in clearer vision and optimal color perception. It can allow you to work for longer periods of time with less visual distraction or fatigue. Just imagine what it might do for your electric razor or microwave, etc.!"..........

  7. #7
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    I ended up going with Blue Jean Cable 10 gauge. After alot of research (Thanks BlackRaven) I decided Blue Jean has enough customers happy. I just finished wiring my room, I did it right this time and wired in the walls instead of trying to hide wires behind couches. Also, if you have never wired in the walls before, be prepared for a task ahead of you. I will be painting my room today and hopefully have everything hooked up by tonight or tomorrow, I'll let you know how it goes.

  8. #8
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    Not to beat a dead horse but I always insist on Home Depot's finest zip cord (it makes an audible difference especially in your wallet!).

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...=&pagewanted=1

    RR6

  9. #9
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Has any one ever tried speaker wire form MONO PRICE? Its 12AWG at a very good price.

    http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...t=1#largeimage


    frenchmon

  10. #10
    Charm Thai™
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    HCM audio has a pretty good deal on Audioquest GBC's. I ordered the GR8's from them years back and have been very pleased.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    Road-Runner6: I do wonder about what it is that makes you feel Mr. Russell's opinion is more valid than others. Obviously he took a great deal of time to write what he wrote with a nice format and pictures, but in the end it's just his opinion. There are a large number of internet sites extolling both sides of the cable debate. It been raging for years

    I'm totally consistent in my advice; Listen for yourself!

    Borrow some low, mid and high priced wires. Take the time to listen to several (but the same) recordings and make up your own mind. If you feel the diminishing returns sets in at a very low price, congratulations you just saved a bucket of money. If not, try and find a used cable or buy quality wire and make your own cables, do not let me or others tell you what to think. Check your area there's probably an audiophile club, members will be happy to share their experience and usually a member or two will bring over cables for you to try

    If there was the one correct answer there probably wouldn't be the large number of speaker cable vendors.

    I could tell you what I use and how I got there, but it's just my opinion and worse it's just my system and room, your results will most likely be different.
    Herman;

    My stuff:
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    Passive pre (homemade; Shallco, Vishay, Cardas wire/connectors)
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    Martin Logan ReQuests.

  12. #12
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    ....."If there was the one correct answer there probably wouldn't be the large number of speaker cable vendors......"

    The correct answer is that these speaker cable venders are making great profits. It didn't take too long after the audio/hi-fi industry grew up and started to understand the "bottom line" that both the dealers and prospective new manufacturers realized the profit potential in extras like extended warranties, speaker wire, connectors, anti-vibration pads, green felt pens, and the ideas are endless. Clever marketing and the fact that most people will believe almost anything if presented correctly has produced a thriving industry.

    Yes, I have already done the comparison tests with a friend who was in the hi-fi (family owned shop) business and then other shops for 25 years. His claim to fame was selling two JBL Paragon speaker sytstems to one customer in the same day (yeah, he's an old fart like me). We set up several different tests with two other friends at his house. The only difference between our tests and all the claims I see here is that one of us played the moderator and the others did not know what wires were used. We spent a whole day on this and did not have single beer until completely finished. It really was lots of fun and revealing.

    I won't get into the details, but suffice to say that the test was very objective and completely blind. None of us could with any consistancy could tell the difference between any of the wires (3 to be exact, one cheap but heavy zip cord, one a Monster wire and one I think was a JPS labs or Tara Labs or something like that and damn expensive). We listened on my friends custom built speakers and kept some detailed notes. We decided to do this because we had been arguing about speaker wire for a long time. The guy who brought the expensive wire was rich to say the least and had more money in his system than I had in my condo (well almost). He swore he would be able to hear a difference. He left red faced and it wasn't because of the beer.

    I am a born sceptic and believe only when I am shown good objective proof. I always take what I read with a certain grain of salt but I have a much higher probability of believing what is presented in a non-biased and objective way. Most audiophiles say they can hear a difference but never subject themselves to a comparison when they are not aware of the wire being used. They always buy new wire, say it sounds better and say my ears don't lie, I hear what I hear. They usually add rather condescendingly that if I can't hear the difference my ears are not as good as theirs.

    Roger Russell worked for McIntosh for 25 years. He was speaker design engineer and started their in-house speaker division. I think that speaks volumes for his unbiased credibilty. He presents his arguments in a very informative, factual and objective manner. I tend to believe him over posters and others who say this wire sounds better than that wire and offer no proof other than their own hearing while knowing which wire they are listening to. He offers a great story how McIntosh finally bent to customer misinformed pressure about internal speaker wire even though McIntosh knew there was no sound difference. He offers lots of facts, figures and tests examples from other professionals (no speaker wire manufacturers, by the way).

    I do not give my opinion here to disagree with others who already have taken out a second mortgage to buy speaker wire. I just want to convince those getting into audio/HT to save their hard earned bucks for what really makes an audible difference in a sound system.

    RR6

  13. #13
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    Roger Russell worked for McIntosh for 25 years. He was speaker design engineer and started their in-house speaker division. I think that speaks volumes for his unbiased credibilty. He presents his arguments in a very informative, factual and objective manner. I tend to believe him over posters and others who say this wire sounds better than that wire and offer no proof other than their own hearing while knowing which wire they are listening to. He offers a great story how McIntosh finally bent to customer misinformed pressure about internal speaker wire even though McIntosh knew there was no sound difference. He offers lots of facts, figures and tests examples from other professionals (no speaker wire manufacturers, by the way) RR6
    Still just an opinion. Where you work has no bearing whatever on bias. I've been in electronics longer than that, I was convinced cables couldn't possibly make a difference (I did the math), but surprise.

    Many proponents also present their information in a very informative, factual and objective manner. On this very site here's a person who exposed himself to criticism, he did a double blind test with an added hurdle, he only listened after a 24 hour delay and ended up a little better than probability would imply. Whenever a person pases a double blind test (and only one person has to ever, to prove a difference) the naysayers quickly demand he repeat the very tedious test 20 times so as rule out happenstance or co-incidence.

    There are none so deaf as those who will not hear, if you're convinced you'll hear nothing, most likely that's exactly the result you'll get.

    I still say, to all newbies, listen for yourself.
    Herman;

    My stuff:
    Olive Musica/transport and server
    Mark Levinson No.360S D to A
    Passive pre (homemade; Shallco, Vishay, Cardas wire/connectors)
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  14. #14
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    ".....There are none so deaf as those who will not hear, if you're convinced you'll hear nothing, most likely that's exactly the result you'll get......"

    The opposite is actually true. In the test you have to tell which ones are different to prove you do in fact hear a difference while not knowing the identity of which wire is being used. We in fact could not.

    Most of the people like two of our friends were not convinced they would hear no difference. Of the four of us, two were sceptic and two of us were believers before the test. After the test we all agreed we could not hear any consistant difference. Two were convinced before the test they would hear a difference. Only after we all listened and not knowing which was being used did we count the results. Not knowing in advance was the key ingredient.

    Are you saying that a speaker engineer (that doesn't sell wire) and a employee of a speaker wire company or a consumer who spent $1000 on wire all have the same bias or lack of?

    Please show the evidence of an objective blind test conducted by an unbiased professional source. I am not talking about a magazine that caters to high end sales of speaker wire.

    ".....Whenever a person pases a double blind test (and only one person has to ever, to prove a difference) ....." You use the word prove. Other double blind tests show the opposite. So one test with one person does not prove anything either way. One reason the pro double blind tests use a number of people is to eliminate any remote possibility of chance/guessing. Our test is not much better but it did include four people. Many posters here claim to hear big differences. Ever so slight differences, I am still open to see an objective tests that indicates this. I have not seen one yet from any reputable source. Big differences in wire, rubbish.

    I enjoyed our exchange, but we could go on forever here. I'll give you the last word (like Bill O'Reilly says, to be fair and balanced)

    RR6

    RR6

  15. #15
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    Are you saying that a speaker engineer (that doesn't sell wire) and a employee of a speaker wire company or a consumer who spent $1000 on wire all have the same bias or lack of?
    No, I'm only saying none of the above guarantees no bias, any and all humans can and often do have biases.

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    Please show the evidence of an objective blind test conducted by an unbiased professional source. I am not talking about a magazine that caters to high end sales of speaker wire.
    Please define "professional". Do you mean a musician, or concert goer or as I suspect a scientist/engineer. Most of them are terrified of being associated with this subject since it generates such knee jerk denial. I only point out that in science, observation precedes explanation, not the other way around.

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    ".....Whenever a person pases a double blind test (and only one person has to ever, to prove a difference) ....." You use the word prove. Other double blind tests show the opposite. So one test with one person does not prove anything either way. One reason the pro double blind tests use a number of people is to eliminate any remote possibility of chance/guessing. Our test is not much better but it did include four people. Many posters here claim to hear big differences. Ever so slight differences, I am still open to see an objective tests that indicates this. I have not seen one yet from any reputable source. Big differences in wire, rubbish.
    Since you already know the results of any test, further discourse does indeed seem pointless. I would propose a poll of members here, but you, as with all the naysayers can't believe or accept a positive result so that too seems pointless

    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    I enjoyed our exchange, but we could go on forever here. I'll give you the last word (like Bill O'Reilly says, to be fair and balanced)

    RR6

    RR6
    Agreed, many designers of the more exotic audiophile equipment disagree with you, but you are correct that they have a financial interest to defend. I doubt all are crass liars, but I can't prove it. I would consider them to be the professionals of which you spoke, but your interpretation implies any professional who disagrees with you must be suspect.

    p.s. If you think Bill O'Reilly is fair and balanced, allow me to sell you some prime Florida real estate (slightly damp).

    Anyway please do enjoy the hobby, I certainly do.
    Herman;

    My stuff:
    Olive Musica/transport and server
    Mark Levinson No.360S D to A
    Passive pre (homemade; Shallco, Vishay, Cardas wire/connectors)
    Cardas Golden Presence IC
    Pass Labs X250
    Martin Logan ReQuests.

  16. #16
    stuck on vintage dingus's Avatar
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    i havent experimented much with speaker wire, but i did gain a noticeable improvement in overall sound by going from a budget Belden cable ($0.50 per foot) to Canare 4s11 (still budget at $0.80 per foot).

    i have witnessed stark differences in different IC's, why wouldnt the same hold true for speaker wire?
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  17. #17
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    Herman, as I stated, I won't make any more comments about the speaker wires on this post. However, you said:

    "p.s. If you think Bill O'Reilly is fair and balanced, allow me to sell you some prime Florida real estate (slightly damp)."

    I never said I thought Bill O'Reilly was fair and balanced. I was using his phrase to make my closing but also I got in a subtle jab. I think he is anything but fair and balanced in many of his points. Many times people use others words for the pure meaning of the words while making subtle fun of them, reverse humor. Just like Rush Limbaugh and "the truth." Take care.

    So as Paul Harvey would say, "good day."

    RR6

  18. #18
    Audio/HT Nut version 1.3a
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    ".....i have witnessed stark differences in different IC's, why wouldnt the same hold true for speaker wire?....."

    ?

    I think you guys down south in Graham get too much rain!

    RR6

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by shodulik
    HCM audio has a pretty good deal on Audioquest GBC's. I ordered the GR8's from them years back and have been very pleased.

    I have two systems wired with the GR8's. Good wire, good deal. I agree with MarkW, diminshing returns come pretty quickly in cables. For no more than I paid, it's a very well-constructed cable that looks and sounds good. I've never been a fan of zip or zipcord-like cables.

  20. #20
    stuck on vintage dingus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadRunner6
    ".....i have witnessed stark differences in different IC's, why wouldnt the same hold true for speaker wire?....."

    ?

    I think you guys down south in Graham get too much rain!

    RR6
    are IC's and speaker cable so different that IC's can impart more variances in the sound than speaker cable can?
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  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=hermanv but your interpretation implies any professional who disagrees with you must be suspect.[/QUOTE]

    I think it's fair to say that we all believe those who have similar experiences to our own. Roadrunner has not heard differences in cables, so he believes others that have not. You have, so you would tend to believe others that have. I'm no different. When I read here and elsewhere that someone has had an experience similar to mine, I have no reason to doubt him.

    As to your comment about professionals, I guess I don't know of any professional scientists that have heard differences in cables, mostly because they are biased against it and have not tried. But lots of other professionals in other disciplines have - and under controlled conditions.

    "All cables sound identical" is bunk. I've proven it as bunk, and witnessed it proven as bunk, several times. It's time for the audio world to get to the *why* discussions and get past the *if* discussions.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
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  22. #22
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    Yes they can

    Quote Originally Posted by dingus
    are IC's and speaker cable so different that IC's can impart more variances in the sound than speaker cable can?
    I've heard wider differences in some IC's than in some speaker cables. Not always true, though - and I don't know why it is so.
    Form is out. Content makes its own form.
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    The format doesn't matter. The music is all that matters.
    - Musicoverall

  23. #23
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicoverall
    I've heard wider differences in some IC's than in some speaker cables. Not always true, though - and I don't know why it is so.
    Since the why and even if of sonic differences is still debated, it's fair to say we can't predict why IC cables have a bigger effect than speaker cables, but I can make a pretty good engineering guess.

    Speakers are driven with a very low impedance source, certainly far less than 4 ohms and in most cases only a few milliohms. Then at the other end of the cable, the speaker present s a low impedance load often of 4 Ohms or so for modern speakers. These two low impedances will tend to swamp out cable differences, even if we don't understand why they are different it's fair to say that the laws of physics are not being violated.

    Interconnects are a far different story, my Levinson DAC claims an output impedance of 8 Ohms, tube gear can run into a couple thousand Ohms. At the other end of these cables the load impedance is usually quite high 10,000 to 100,000 Ohms. For the interconnect case, small capacitive, inductive or group delay variation in a set of cables will have a more significant effect than the same qualities in very low impedance speaker cable.
    Herman;

    My stuff:
    Olive Musica/transport and server
    Mark Levinson No.360S D to A
    Passive pre (homemade; Shallco, Vishay, Cardas wire/connectors)
    Cardas Golden Presence IC
    Pass Labs X250
    Martin Logan ReQuests.

  24. #24
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    Ahem, as someone who's done more double-blind tests than he should ever have, I can say unequivocally that I have heard differences, very slight ones that were repeatedly demonstrable. That said, the wires sounded different and not necessarily better, and I think this is an important distinction. The "better" qualifier is usually a matter of taste. I also think we can all agree that the only time a wire is truly "better" is when an inappropriate wire is replaced with an appropriate one (i.e. a very thin wire is used for long distances).

    Speaking of distances, the longer the wire, the more audible the differences, in my experience. If one can find a manufacturer that has a 30-day return guarantee, or something similar (most do), then order the longest wires they have and compare them to similarly lengthy wires. I'm about to do this with Mapleshade wires (I ordered several types to put them to the test). Anyhow, my guess is that anyone can hear differences if the wires are long enough.

    And this brings me to another question: if there are differences (and I believe there are because I have heard them), then should this not be measurable electronically, without the troublesome issues of psychology, preferences, and human error? I ask this, because a chart, like a spectrum analysis, can easily be compared without bias: numbers on a printed sheet don't lie.

    Oooooh, I think I've just opened one heck of a can of worms....

  25. #25
    Forum Regular hermanv's Avatar
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    One of the big problems with measurement of cables is that almost all test equipment measures a steady state signal. Sometimes DC, sometimes a sine wave or even as many as four sine waves at once.

    None of this is as complex as music, none of the tests stop and start abruptly with short gaps, none of the equipment performs a series of simultneous measurements, the tests are sequenced even if quickly, one test parameter at a time.

    It's my opinion that we won't find the things that the human ear seems to hear by using these techniques. Hence the refrain, if you can't measure it, how can it exist? This is why we are forced to evaluate cables by listening tests and the naysayers are correct that no two people will hear exactly the same effect.

    In my opinion, a whole new measurement system or technique is required. This means money, who pays? The cable companies are happy with the status quo. If the "secret" was known, perhaps a first class cable could be made for $25.
    Herman;

    My stuff:
    Olive Musica/transport and server
    Mark Levinson No.360S D to A
    Passive pre (homemade; Shallco, Vishay, Cardas wire/connectors)
    Cardas Golden Presence IC
    Pass Labs X250
    Martin Logan ReQuests.

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