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opinions sought on speaker cables ... MIT Vs. Nordost


wdw

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...but we can't "win" this "discussion".

 

I feel kind of bad about chiming in here. Didn't realize it then, but we are like a couple of atheists crashing a Sunday sermon. Excuse me for intruding. I'm going to weasel my way out of here now.

 

New guy here - old guy elsewhere...Mac Mini - BitPerfect - USB - Schiit Bifrost DAC - shit cable - Musical Fidelity A3.5 - home-brew speakers designed to prioritize phase and time response (Accuton ceramic dome drivers and first-order crossovers) and a very cheaply but well corrected room...old head, old ears, conventionally connected to an old brain with outdated software.

 

"It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled." -- Mark Twain

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Cables influence to sound of course.

 

What reason?

See to circuit (output impedance of amplifier) -> (cable) -> (input impedance of speaker).

 

If thin cable (less 18 AWG (0.823 mm2)) is long enough (more 20-30 ft) and it has significant resistance (comparing with impedances of amplifier and speacker). At this case cable influence to sound.

 

If cable more 14 AWG (2.08 mm2) then no difference (to 60 ft).

 

Qualitative cable has oxidation (increase of resistance) less then non-qualitative. MIT and Nordost cables has radio montage (connectors) by manufacturer. It increase oxidation defence also.

 

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Jeff,

 

It's cool.

 

I don't let all the ranting bother me.

 

People can do whatever they want. I'm just not personally paying $1000 for a piece of wire.

 

I'm checking out of this thread myself.

 

Thanks tho!

 

RM

 

 

 

Regards,[br]Rob McCance[br]Audiophile, Engineer for Cadence Design Systems, and Founder of Atlanta Real Estate Info[br]Mac Mini w/ Pure Music+iTunes>>Audiophilleo2>>Metrum Octave>>Passive Attenuator>>GFA555II>>JBL6332

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Well, I had no idea my comment would unleash such a long stream of new comments. Thanks for all the informative responses! I stand by my claim that Nordost cables dramatically improve the sound quality, of my system at least, and the more expensive the cable, the greater the improvement. I cannot speak for other cable brands, other systems, or the question of "synergy." But I would not have shelled out $1,000-$3,000 for individual cable upgrades (after careful, repeated and patient auditing) if there hadn't been striking differences. I cannot explain the reason for these differences in any technical terms (I don't have the technical knowledge). But the differences were very real. It remains simply dumbfounding to me how merely plugging in a more expensive power cable into the wall can do this - lurch a system's sound into an altogether higher-quality bracket, just as if one had upgraded to a new greatly more expensive amp or speakers. It means that these high-quality cables are just as important as the individual audio components themselves. It means that most people's system's weakest link has most likely to do with what's going on BETWEEN rather than WITHIN their audio components. There must be some serious leakage in audio information when the signal and the current leave one component to enter another (I've heard in fact that a great deal of audio information is lost at the terminals alone). So if this is the case, maximizing the potential of one's system is all about upgrading/tweaking/massaging the signal/current between the components and equalizing them to the same quality level as the signal/current flow within the components (unless of course there are significant problems with one's components as well).

 

 

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Concerning Shunyata, some years ago before I started upgrading my Nordost power cables, I was exclusively using Shunyata Diamondback power cables, which retailed for around $250 at the time. A Nordost dealer let me try the entry-level Nordost Magus power cable, which went for about $200. There was an immediate improvement in sound using the cheaper, Nordost cable. At the higher end, I defer to Daphne, but I'm not about to get rid of my Nordost Valhalla and Frey 2 power cables.

 

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I read with interest your comment below about how components should "get out of the way" and allow you to hear how different recordings sound from one another. I use decent, but not very expensive power cords and interconnects. I use Belden quad 14 gauge (effectively 11 gauge because I do not bi-wire) speaker cable because I have a 25 foot run. Nevertheless, I hear a significant difference between different recordings. Some sound detailed and dynamic; others sound repressed and even muddy.

 

I wonder how, if at all, more expensive cabling (particularly speaker wire) would affect the sound quality. If I had a shorter run, I'd experiment. In any event, even with inexpensive cabling the differences are noticeable and at times striking.

 

Steve Kuh[br]Mac Mini > Glyph HD > Weiss AFI1 (slave) > modded Esoteric D70 (master) > BAT VK51SE > Classe CA400 > Harbeth Super HL5[br]\"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know...\"

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Barry, Barrows

 

I agree with the neutral premise, that everything should be neutral so that what is intended to be heard by the musician(s), producer, and engineer is heard; and that to attempt to ameliorate one flaw with its opposite is likely not the route to take.

 

The problem, how to determine what makes a basic neutral system. A starting point in other words. It's not like you can listen to an amp, dac, wires, speakers, or player alone, by putting your ear up to it. You always have to listen to a string of components; how does one determine what is truly neutral and what is one component covering up for another?

 

And that's just part one of the problem. You (Barry) at least know exactly what your albums sound like in the studio, and if your home system doesn't sound like what the music sounded like in the studio (or what you intended it to sound like) you know there's a problem somewhere. The rest of us have to guess to one degree or another.

 

If you don't have an honestly neutral system to start with, you can drive yourself crazy and into bankruptcy by buying $1000 wire tone controls and the like. Something that it seems quite a few "audiophiles" are doing, and that is understandable given the above dilemma.

 

Maybe as Scott said, we should just drop "NEUTRAL," and substitute kickass. Unless of course either of you or someone else has a fail proof answer for the above questions. Please do; I'm not being facetious.

 

-Chris

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Steve,

 

I would hope that differences are noticeable.

They are also noticeable (and at times striking) on my car system.

 

There are degrees of difference. Some systems I've heard go another couple of orders of magnitude beyond this. Those are the ones (a few) that I say "get out of the way".

 

By the way, in my experience, isn't necessarily a question of how expensive the cable is. As I mentioned earlier, when I first got the bottom of the line Nordosts in my system, they replaced cables that cost three times their price (and they sonically wiped the floor with them - it wasn't at all subtle).

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hi Chris,

 

I wrote about this in an earlier post in this thread, talking about listening for degrees of difference between different recordings.

 

My studio isn't my ultimate reference; it must defer to what I hear from the position of the mic array during recordings. It has taken years but I'm happy to say, the studio system (which is also my prime listening room) is very good at "getting out of the way".

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Do not despair, and do not give up trying to discern what "neutral" might be, lest you end up in the circular route of "upgrades" never knowing where you are.

Barry has shared some good advice. Mine is a little more difficult, but will help over time.

Learn as much as you can technically about each of your components, a decent technical understanding of the circuitry can help you to determine which components are likely to be more neutral than others. For instance, an extreme example would be an old school (not current hi tech like Audio Research and VTL) tube amplifier. It is clear from measurements and listening that these are nowhere near "neutral" with huge amounts of distortion on their output.

Two, read all the reviews you can of the components you have. While I would never trust a single review to be accurate, if you start seeing a trend which is consistent across many different reviews, then it is likely that the trend is at least somewhat accurate. I feel it is safe to consider an component fairly close to neutral if some reviews call it a little warm, and some reviews call it a little cold, as is the case with my Pass amplifier.

Look at the speaker measurements posted in Stereophile reviews and learn how to interpret them, then go to dealers and audio shows and listen to the same speakers. Often the frequency response measurements will reveal that the tweeters have a resonance just above the audio band which is not damped in the crossover (or worse, that there is an upper midrange bump in response), I feel this undamped resonance often influences high frequency sound within the audio band producing brightness.

Go to audio shows and dealers, and listen to lots of different systems, using the same music. Remember which systems you felt were tonally accurate, and which were "bright". At first this will be confusing, but over time you will start to develop some knowledge about components which tend to be brighter.

Simplify! In your own system, try to listen to it with no tweaks, and as few components as possible. Through reducing complexity one reduces how many components affect the signal. DAC-AMP-Speakers can help in determining which components are adding what to the signal. Then swap in and out other components, one at a time only, and note only the changes in tonal balance.

Listen to live music, especially unamplified music, whenever you can, and make an effort to remember the specific tonality of individual instruments.

While none of the above can result in one knowing "exactly" what neutrality is, all of the above, taken as a whole, can help one get to a point where larger deviations from neutrality are obvious, and many, many systems and components have these obvious deviations from neutrality.

 

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 512-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical with Well Tempered Clock--DIY DSC-2 DAC with SC Pure Clock--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

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Thanks for the advice. Again, if I shorten my speaker run in the future from 25', I'll certainly audition other cables to assess their impact on SQ. Until then, however, I'm afraid I must stay as is.

 

Steve Kuh[br]Mac Mini > Glyph HD > Weiss AFI1 (slave) > modded Esoteric D70 (master) > BAT VK51SE > Classe CA400 > Harbeth Super HL5[br]\"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know...\"

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I don’t know who came up with the phrase “your audio system is only as good as its weakest link,” but audio cable companies have latched onto that phrase with a death grip, and for most it is their number one psychological marketing pitch. I was thinking, for someone around 30 or younger, their entire audio life has been exposed to cable company propaganda.

 

Also, I don’t know if there is a formula, but there are some basic guidelines for selecting speaker cable. It depends on the speaker impedance, the length of the wire needed, wire residence, wire capacitance, and amplifier stability. These are the reported factors that influence the sound of different speaker wire.

 

For my speakers a 2 meter to 2.5 meter length (or 7 to 8 feet) from amp to speaker is all I need. The Nominal Impedance = 4 ohms, but has a reported minimum impedance of 2.9 ohms @ 24Hz. Normally, for a 4 ohm speaker with an 8’ wire I would only need an 18 AWG wire. However, to compensate for the impedance dip to 2.9 ohms I would need a 14 AWG wire or perhaps 12 AWG. And my amplifier is very stable. Perhaps by luck, the Shunyata cable I received had the right amount of copper, residence and capacitance that was a suitable match for my amplifier and speakers.

 

I came across a site which explains the mysterious nature of speaker wire. It is a basic primer on the subject, or one could say “The Idiots Guide to Speaker Wire.” The author explains the subject in easy to understand terms. http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm

 

After reading the above article, please consider for a few minutes how foolish it would be to pay $500 per foot for copper wire.

 

 

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And the wierd thing is, the balance (or synergy) of your equipment changes every time you make a change.

 

You can put together a pretty neutral yet still "kick ass" system from pretty low cost components, or as you say, a really "suck ass" system from pretty high priced components.

 

I am also discovering (painfully) that the simpler you can keep it, the better the chance of it all fitting together well.

 

I like the way you have your gear layed out in your sig. It looks to me like you have a lot of fun playing with it. :)

 

Have you tried some of the less common combinations?

 

Jriver -> HiFace -> DEQ2496 -> Pioneer -> NHT Super Zeros?

 

That sounds like a great combo to me, mostly because the Berhenger can be used to handle any small room issues. I think that is a fairly nice hunk of hardware, though other folks will have differing opinions of course.

 

So many cool combinations to play with and listen to! And of course, changing up the NHT's for a step up - Maggie MMGs for instance - would change the sound dramatically, and possibly flip the entire balance around, making other components more fitting.

 

And of course, then you could swap in some cool cables and that would change things up even more.

 

Great hobby isn't it? You don't have to spend a fortune to get great sound, and you can incrementally change things around and learn what you like to listen to. Heck, I have several spare hunks of gear around here I need to sell or donate to the Goodwill. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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discussed so much that I am not going to go into details, but anyone who thinks that L, C, and R are the only factors which affect an electrical representation of music running through a wire are not seeing the whole picture, and would do well to educate themselves about the following:

skin effects, dialetric effects, resonance effects, and speed of propogation (as it relates to phase), all of which are real, physical properties of cables carrying electrical signals.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 512-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical with Well Tempered Clock--DIY DSC-2 DAC with SC Pure Clock--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

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Perhaps by luck, the Shunyata cable I received had the right amount of copper, residence and capacitance that was a suitable match for my amplifier and speakers.

 

 

You got lucky. You got the right amount or residence the first time around. That's the really tough part!

 

Whew!

 

Regards,[br]Rob McCance[br]Audiophile, Engineer for Cadence Design Systems, and Founder of Atlanta Real Estate Info[br]Mac Mini w/ Pure Music+iTunes>>Audiophilleo2>>Metrum Octave>>Passive Attenuator>>GFA555II>>JBL6332

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This cable does this or that, some say a $500 a meter cables sounds better than plain old speaker cable. Fact is, this very cable vs results talk has been going on throughout the audio industry and forums for years and years and all of these well known "experts" has never performed any scientific test with quantifiable data that proves that cable A is any better than cable B or C. Such people has made statements based on their own hearing but wheres the data produced by a piece of audio test equipment. Companies make money selling stuff be it cables or high end equipment and they spend money on Marketing through advertising in magazines and I really doubt a magazine is going to downplay a paying advertisers product by making a comment that their product is nothing but cable overkill and "miracle wire". Be it $500 a meter cable, $7,000 DACS, $50k amps or $50k speakers, it all come's down to someones opinion based on a their own ears, hearing and the old brain analyzing sound and maybe their loyalty to an advertiser. If it makes one feel good that they just spent $50, $100 or $500 a meter for cables and they then hear the difference, I say good for them.

 

The Truth Is Out There

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That's some pretty good thinking.

 

What's your opinion on cable that costs $5 - $15 per foot? There is a lot of good speaker cable in that price range. (Including my favorite Nordost speaker cables... depending upon where you buy it... :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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... anyone who thinks that L, C, and R are the only factors which affect an electrical representation of music running through a wire are not seeing the whole picture, and would do well to educate themselves about the following:

skin effects, dialetric effects, resonance effects, and speed of propogation (as it relates to phase), all of which are real, physical properties of cables carrying electrical signals.

 

Yes, they are all real. And they are all completely negligible at audio frequencies and runs of max 30 feet.

 

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"skin effects, dialetric effects, resonance effects, and speed of propogation (as it relates to phase), all of which are real, physical properties of cables carrying electrical signals."

 

Yes, they are all real. And they are all completely negligible at audio frequencies and runs of max 30 feet.

 

Well that is good to know, though it conflicts with what my favorite cable manufacturers say. (The two principals of the company are engineers with over 100 years combined experience in audio. One of them used to have a managerial role in aircraft programs for the Pentagon. These are not guys given to magical thinking.) One thing they say is that dielectric effects can cause audible "smearing" of the leading edges of transients.

 

Human hearing sensitivity in the time domain is such as to be able to distinguish differences of somewhere around 10 (older research) or even 5 (newer research) microseconds. So are you saying that, for example, dielectric effects cannot change the leading edge of a transient by as much as 5 microseconds in, e.g., a 25 foot length?

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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If it works, use it. Nothing wrong with a properly put together cable if it provides you with the connection stability you require. I've been pretty lucky having friends that own high end audio stores and trying expensive cable as compared to cable I either made myself of purchased from Monoprice or Blue Jean Cable the sound, well I couldn't hear it.

 

The Truth Is Out There

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differences of somewhere around 10 (older research) or even 5 (newer research) microseconds.

 

Jud,

 

Do you have a link or reference to that "older" research ?

 

I am familiar with the Kunchur studies, and even an earlier anedote (http://www.wnyc.org/shows/soundcheck/2011/jul/21/).

 

I wonder if the 10 microsec limit may be for detectable rise times, and the 5 microsec for detectable timing of repeating events.

 

 

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Dave -

 

A 9-10 microsecond limit is cited by Kunchur himself for earlier studies done by others, so you'll find the earlier research looking at Kunchur's publications.

 

I wonder if the 10 microsec limit may be for detectable rise times, and the 5 microsec for detectable timing of repeating events.

 

I read multiple publications of Kunchur's with that question in mind. Near as I can tell, though I am not an expert, Kunchur is saying the 5 microsecond limit would be valid for initial rise times, as well as timing differences between two continuing events. That is, we would be able to hear the difference between a transient with a 5 microsecond rise time and one with a 10 microsecond rise time.

 

For comparison - the rise (half-wave) time for a frequency of 20kHz would be 25 microseconds, if my math is right.

 

Edit: By the way, when thinking about the possibility of audio differences in digital cables, recognize that time domain effects there are potentially more of a problem, since the frequencies (resolutions) being transmitted are at least 44.1kHz.

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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“would do well to educate themselves about the following:

skin effects, dialetric effects, resonance effects, and speed of propogation (as it relates to phase), all of which are real, physical properties of cables carrying electrical signals.”

 

Yes, barrows, you are absolutely correct. Skin effects, dielectric effects, resonance effects, speed of propagation are all measurable physical properties of speaker cables. The question is, are they relevant to the audio frequencies of a HiFi system? Many believe these items have become part of the exotic audio cable culture created by cable brands in an attempt to offer credence to their products and can easily be debunked. I offer a few examples below, but keep in mind I am referring to low impedance speaker wire, not high impedance interconnects. Contrary to cable brands, the design for one is not necessarily the optimal design for the other.

 

Skin effect is most significant at very high frequencies, like in the mega Hertz range. Therefore, for all practical purposes the skin effect does not have any significance at audio frequencies. http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/interview-with-dr-howard-johnson-about-skin-effect

 

Dielectric absorption in audio cables only affects the signal outside the audio frequencies. http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/dielectric-absorption-in-cables-debunked

 

Myth of speaker cable resonance.

http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/debunking-the-myth-of-speaker-cable-resonance

 

Speed of propagation and phase.

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?3390-How-fast-does-electricity-travel

http://www.audioholics.com/education/cables/speaker-cable-length-differences-do-they-matter

 

 

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I am not aware of any brand which uses the same wire for interconnects and speaker cable? Generally speaking that would be a huge mistake, as the current requiremnts of the two are very different.

For those who are skeptical of wire differences, I suggest you might want to listen. The differences in wire is astonishingly large in high resolution system. I think a lot of people also do not audition signal wires properly, they make the mistake of replacing one wire in a system which requires at least two. Consider a simple system of a DAC-Amplifier-Speaker. If it is wired with a smeared blurry set of low resolution cables, and then one just replaces the interconnect, it may be impossible to hear a difference, as the smeared, blurry speaker cable masks the improved resolution the interconnect is capable of. While I do not necessarily believe those manufacturers who say you must use a consistent set of cables-I can understand why they say this (see above) as they have no way to know if the other cables in ones system are lowering the overall resolution so much that their cable is at a disadvantage.

To properly audition cables one should replace all the cables in a system (analog interconnects and speaker cables) with the new cable under audition. Now I am not one (although some are) to believe that matching power cables must be used as well-in my experience, as long as all of the signal cables are replaced, one would have to have a very poor listening skills to not hear a difference between something like a generic, but quality, brand such as Blue Jeans, and something like Nordost Frey. My strong belief is that these differences can be attributed to the aforementioned factors, as the cables which always seem to rise to the top in listening tests of my experience are the designs which sensibly address: skin effects, dialetric effects, speed of propogation, and resonance effects-the cables of my experience all exhibit reasonable values for L, C, and R. These are cables such as Nordost, Audience, and Stereovox/Stereolab.

And no, I do not need to do anymore testing myself, I already know the difference exists from carefully done tests. Anyone who does not believe there is a difference has two choices: actually do a relevant listening test as I describe, or accept that they may be missing out on a way to significantly upgrade the sound quality of their system. There is no other option, as one cannot prove a negative.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 512-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical with Well Tempered Clock--DIY DSC-2 DAC with SC Pure Clock--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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