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Old 07-25-2015, 04:20 PM   #41
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My CD player has two sets of RCA outputs, so I could connect the Monster and Kimber interconnects simultaneously

The Monsters are darker, with a lot more bass (almost like someone turned up the bass control) - the Kimbers have a much more open and airy sound with much more detail.
I wouldn't read too much into that. The components used in audio equipment have very large tolerances. 5% resistors and 20% capacitors. If you buy really good parts you still have 1% resistors and 10% capacitors and almost no one does that. So your audio inputs will have significant variation even on the same device. Actually huge compared to the variation in cabling.
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Old 07-25-2015, 07:39 PM   #42
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Jitter was always a problem with digital audio signals. The clock at the receiving end was regenerated from the digital transitions. Crappy analog performance, with slow digital transitions, would create a big jitter problem with the regenerated clock. Measurable and audible. Eventually, at least most of the audiophile gear got pretty good at regenerating the clock without objectionable jitter. Audio over HDMI was still climbing this learning curve and was a step backward. Cable could have some effect on that, but i don't know of any specific testing. It's always way more complicated than it seems.

I was happy to listen for cable differences and pay if it made an improvement for me. I did have some favorite (reasonably priced) RCA line interconnects, but never heard a big difference in the speaker cables I tried. Now that I have tinnitus I can be really cheap!
Of course this does suggest the quality of the sound card can make a difference.USB sound cards vary from $2 to $80 at least and possibly more. One would expect that those with good ears could hear the difference. A higher quality card would one expect also have more frequency stabilization thus less jitter.
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Old 07-26-2015, 08:49 PM   #43
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People who buy expensive speaker cables are starting with a predetermined position that they are "better", so of course they will claim to hear an improvement. ...
I agree that this is a major factor. But an expensive cable still might be better than a basic good quality cable. But I am skeptical.

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I wouldn't read too much into that. The components used in audio equipment have very large tolerances. 5% resistors and 20% capacitors. If you buy really good parts you still have 1% resistors and 10% capacitors and almost no one does that. So your audio inputs will have significant variation even on the same device. Actually huge compared to the variation in cabling.
Agreed. Other variations are likely to be much larger than good versus 'super' cables.


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Jitter was always a problem with digital audio signals. The clock at the receiving end was regenerated from the digital transitions. Crappy analog performance, with slow digital transitions, would create a big jitter problem with the regenerated clock. Measurable and audible. Eventually, at least most of the audiophile gear got pretty good at regenerating the clock without objectionable jitter. ...
OK, and it has been a long time since I researched this or did the math, but...

in the real world, how much difference in jitter can we attribute to a good quality basic cable, versus a big $$$ 'premium' cable? The math can be done to predict the distortion components of that jitter delta. Is it in the range of even being possibly audible?

And if the answer is yes, then I really don't think it is that hard to design a stable regenerated clock that would sync to the source. If you do that, any jitter within the error band would be regenerated accurately, so it just wouldn't matter. So if jitter is a problem, it seems any decent quality DAC should resolve it with a solid regenerated clock.

Is there more to it than that?

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Old 07-26-2015, 09:33 PM   #44
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On jitter assume a 100 mbits/sec cable That runs at a 4 bit by 25 mhz signal rate. Giving a pulse length of about .00000004 sec. or about 40 nano seconds. Assuming a jitter at that rate the frequency of the jitter would be well above the audio range and get lost in the sound card D/A converter. For wireless G you have a 20 mhz bandwith giving bit durations of about the same duration (actually .00000005 sec) Again way above human hearing. There are problems with motion control with jitter at the microsecond level, but since digitial audio is typically sampled at 44k that should not be audible on audio.
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:36 PM   #45
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i wondered about the big difference between how the two sets of cables sounded, so I switched the connections. With different audio outputs, the difference remained between Monster vs. Kimber.

Also had my wife & friends listen to the cables and they also noticed the difference.
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Old 07-27-2015, 12:32 AM   #46
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in the real world, how much difference in jitter can we attribute to a good quality basic cable, versus a big $$$ 'premium' cable? The math can be done to predict the distortion components of that jitter delta. Is it in the range of even being possibly audible?

And if the answer is yes, then I really don't think it is that hard to design a stable regenerated clock that would sync to the source. If you do that, any jitter within the error band would be regenerated accurately, so it just wouldn't matter. So if jitter is a problem, it seems any decent quality DAC should resolve it with a solid regenerated clock.

Is there more to it than that?

-ERD50
Heh, heh. Yeah. The clock that's regenerated from the data is the DATA CLOCK, used to recover encoded bits from the link level stream. It's not the clock that goes to the DAC. See, what goes over that HDMI audio line, TOSLINK, or other digital audio interconnect is not just bits of digitized sound. The audio data bits are framed, formed into packets or blocks which also include metadata.

For example, those TOSLINK optical fiber interconnects follow IEC-60958, which in turn carries audio using AES3 protocol. (identical in protocol, but not signal levels to S/PDIF). The protocol treats audio in blocks. Each block of digital audio is presented as 192 consecutive frames. Each frame includes metadata that the receiver will collate to get the description for that block. The frames are broken into subframes, each with 32 time slots, each slot with two symbols. These represent one bit of one channel, or a synchronization preamble. The different time slots are used for different purposes, including things like synchronization, auxiliary samples, the audio samples of course, validity markers, user data, the channel status, and a parity flag for error detection.

The receiving hardware has to receive all the time slots for a frame, and all the little frames for one block to get all the metadata for that block. It needs all the metadata to know just what to do with that block. This means that there is a one block (or more) sized buffer on the receive side that has to be filled before the receive hardware starts sending the data to a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC).

There may be many nanoseconds of jitter on the interconnect, but that's not normally enough to interfere with the receiver decoding process and filling the receiving buffer. If there is too much jitter or other interference, the AES decode logic detects that, will flag the condition, and won't fill the buffer with anything.

Jitter on a digital audio interconnect either has no effect, or will result in silence from a decent design, or repeated playing of the last buffer of data in a really bad design. (Yeah, there's a $10,000 sooperdooper amplifier that did this...)

Of course, people are entitled to their own opinions. They just aren't entitled to their own facts.
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:23 AM   #47
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There has been only one time that different cables made a noticeable difference on my McIntosh system. When I bought the equipment in 1972 I used extension cord for my speaker wires. several years later I found a set of Monster speaker wires at a moving sale for $10. When I hooked them up there was an immediate improvement in bass response of the speakers. The Monster cable is very heavy compared to the 18 guage zip cord I had been using.
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Old 07-27-2015, 11:55 AM   #48
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There has been only one time that different cables made a noticeable difference on my McIntosh system. When I bought the equipment in 1972 I used extension cord for my speaker wires. several years later I found a set of Monster speaker wires at a moving sale for $10. When I hooked them up there was an immediate improvement in bass response of the speakers. The Monster cable is very heavy compared to the 18 gauge zip cord I had been using.
Yes, 18 gauge wire is really small. If you had a 15' foot run from amp to speakers, that would be 30' of wire, and that would be about 0.2 ohms, not insignificant at all with 8 ohm speakers, and speaker impedance can drop much farther at certain frequencies. A dip to 2 ohms for example (extreme, but not unheard of), means you are losing 9.09 % of the signal to the wire!

I'll assume that the Monster cable is far thicker gauge (they actually don't list the gauge as part of their marketing smoke/mirrors about using bundles of multiple gauge wire together). It turns out I actually have Monster Cable on my speakers (I forgot!) - I didn't buy it for the name, in fact, I would have avoided it because I hate hype. But I think I got it cheap, it is thick, and very flexible, and came with nice connectors, so I went for it. As close as I can measure through the clear insulation, it looks to be ~ 4 mm dia, so ~ 6 gauge, and that would be 0.125 ohms for 30'. About 1/16th of what 18 ga provides. I think it would be reasonable to detect an audible difference between them.


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I used to be a skeptic, ..... with an Arcam 7 CD player that had an upgraded D/A converter from an Arcam 8.

Used Monster speaker cables which made an improvement. Later, got some Monster 500 interconnects ($50/pr) which sounded better than the generics. Finally got some Kimber PBJ interconnects ($75/pr). My CD player has two sets of RCA outputs, so I could connect the Monster and Kimber interconnects simultaneously

The Monsters are darker, with a lot more bass (almost like someone turned up the bass control) - the Kimbers have a much more open and airy sound with much more detail.
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Originally Posted by ampeep View Post
i wondered about the big difference between how the two sets of cables sounded, so I switched the connections. With different audio outputs, the difference remained between Monster vs. Kimber.

Also had my wife & friends listen to the cables and they also noticed the difference.
Are these differences reliably detected in blind tests, and can they identify which is which? Often, friends will tell you what you want to hear.

And if there is a real difference so great that it actually sounds like turning up the bass control, it should be easy to measure the difference with a cheap voltmeter and a test tone (easy to generate from a computer if you don't have another source or test CD - or DL them from the internet). And if that's the case, it is just R, L, C, easy to reproduce with a cheap discrete component (or combination). Then it comes down to what do you want it to sound like - take your pick!


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Quote:
And if the answer is yes, then I really don't think it is that hard to design a stable regenerated clock that would sync to the source. If you do that, any jitter within the error band would be regenerated accurately, so it just wouldn't matter. So if jitter is a problem, it seems any decent quality DAC should resolve it with a solid regenerated clock.

Is there more to it than that?

-ERD50
Heh, heh. Yeah. ... The audio data bits are framed, formed into packets or blocks which also include metadata.
....

There may be many nanoseconds of jitter on the interconnect, but that's not normally enough to interfere with the receiver decoding process and filling the receiving buffer. If there is too much jitter or other interference, the AES decode logic detects that, will flag the condition, and won't fill the buffer with anything.

Jitter on a digital audio interconnect either has no effect, or will result in silence from a decent design ....

Of course, people are entitled to their own opinions. They just aren't entitled to their own facts.
Thanks for that detailed response. Just to make sure I decoded all that correctly, let me paraphrase it: I oversimplified it by just talking about clocks and data. The data is put together in blocks with some supporting data, and this gets decoded at the receiving end.

Bottom line, extreme jitter at the interconnect may result in failure (silence in a good design). Lesser levels of jitter just have no effect whatsoever, the data is reconstructed, there is no physical difference to 'hear'.

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Old 07-27-2015, 02:02 PM   #49
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So HDMI audio is asynchronous? If the DAC clock isn't synchronous with the data clock, then there has to be some way to make sure the buffer doesn't become empty or overflow due to clock speed differences. A high-quality DAC clock would have been great back in the CD days, but the bits just streamed out of the CD player at their own rate. You had to use the data clock or get really fancy.

Reviewers hated HDMI audio originally, and jitter via basic receivers was one culprit still mentioned, but that's about when my tinnitus started so I don't have an opinion on HDMI versus digital coax and have to take their word for it.
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Old 07-27-2015, 05:02 PM   #50
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OK, this should clear things up:



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Old 07-27-2015, 07:17 PM   #51
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if you choose to not believe in differences, that's fine. The listening was based on playing the same music - I'm not into test tones.
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Old 07-27-2015, 07:40 PM   #52
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if you choose to not believe in differences, that's fine. The listening was based on playing the same music - I'm not into test tones.
I didn't say I didn't believe it. I was just curious about the test conditions.

And as I said, a cable with different R, L, C characteristics can affect the sound. I don't think there is anything mystical about it. I can recall playing around with an equalizer - just pull the some of the lower-to-mid of the mid-range down a slight amount, and I think many people would describe that as a more 'detailed', 'open' and 'airy' sound. I think it's just a matter of getting some those lower frequencies out of the way, and the higher frequencies (associated with 'detailed', 'open' and 'airy') come through.

But it's awfully hit-miss to pick a cable that matches what kind of sound you are going for. And R, L, and/or C can be added to a cable for very little money - I just can't understand any correlation between $ and sound quality across proper cables. If I was inclined to try to adjust my sound with cables, I'd add a little proto-board to the cable and try different values of R, L and C in there.

Yes, the goal is the music, not test tones. But I like test tones to help guide me to what I think I'm hearing, and make some sense of it. If I found a difference between two cables, I'd like to know what's going on so I could reproduce it. What frequency range was boost or cut? There really isn't anything else a proper cable can do.

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Old 07-27-2015, 07:50 PM   #53
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No one on their death bed said "i wish i had bought better interconnects".

Are we really still talking about stranded copper?


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Old 07-27-2015, 07:52 PM   #54
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i wondered about the big difference between how the two sets of cables sounded, so I switched the connections. With different audio outputs, the difference remained between Monster vs. Kimber.

Also had my wife & friends listen to the cables and they also noticed the difference.
Actually, I do believe that there is more to this than our engineer friends say. I do hear a difference between my multistranded and solid core copper wires. Is it real? I dunno but I do like the more 3D soundstage I get with the solid core wire. The vocalist is further out in the room and there is just more distance between the front and the back of the image which creates a pleasant to my ears effect. There is more "there" there. Is it real, is it imagined, don't know but I do like the effect of the solid core wires so that's what I use. Could I prove this with electrodes attached to the tender parts? Dunno.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:36 PM   #55
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I have what would be considered a mid-fi system, which is good enough to detect these differences. Probably wouldn't have noticed changes in my earlier systems.

It is definitely more than a change in equalization - some of the changes include imaging. For example, a singer's vocal would seem to be suspended several feet out into the room as compared to coming from between the speakers.

Don't know if such things can be measured....
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:31 PM   #56
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Actually, I do believe that there is more to this than our engineer friends say. ...
I'm open to any other plausible explanation.

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I do hear a difference between my multistranded and solid core copper wires. Is it real? I dunno but I do like the more 3D soundstage I get with the solid core wire. The vocalist is further out in the room and there is just more distance between the front and the back of the image which creates a pleasant to my ears effect. There is more "there" there. Is it real, is it imagined, don't know ....
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...
It is definitely more than a change in equalization - some of the changes include imaging. For example, a singer's vocal would seem to be suspended several feet out into the room as compared to coming from between the speakers.

Don't know if such things can be measured....
The brain uses timing differences and phase shift cues from each ear to locate sounds.

R, C, and L can affect timing differences and phase shift, so it is explainable. The 'imaging' or 'soundstage' itself is a perception that exists in our brain, so we can't measure that directly with instruments. But if observers reliably can identify that Cable A brings the vocals forward compared to Cable B, I expect that yes, we could correlate that with a change in R, L, and C in the cables. Knowing that, one could probably adjust it for a desired effect (withing limits).

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... I do like the effect of the solid core wires so that's what I use. ...
Stranded versus solid just doesn't have a big effect on R, L, C in a proper audio cable. If there are real differences in the sound (verified in blind tests), it is likely due to some other shift in R, L or C in those cables, not specifically the stranded versus solid.

If a red car you drove handled better than a blue car you drove, you can't attribute that to the color.

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Is it real, is it imagined, don't know
Well, if you don't know if the effect is real or imagined, it's kind of tough to try to identify a 'cause'.


Audio cables are simple devices, and well understood (made complex by people who want to sell $$$ ones - just like financial matters are made complex by people selling a product to 'help' you). Speakers and room interaction get very, very complex. It's tough to pinpoint any specific sound change to any specific speaker quality, there is so much going on (magnets, voice coils, electrical and physical properties of those, the speaker cone and suspension, box volume, resonances, damping, venting, crossovers, interactions between all the drivers, and then how all this interfaces with the room size, reflections, and on and on and on... ), and room effects make it harder to get good measurements. It's tough. Cable simple.

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Old 07-27-2015, 11:00 PM   #57
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Well, for many years I believed the result from a test conducted by a learned panel from Stereo Review magazine long ago that concluded that without the shadow of a doubt all amplifiers that have comparable distortion characteristics within a certain power output sound the same. Much latter I discovered it ain't necessarily so.

This was driven home to me some years ago when I found that I was loosing interest in listening to music after I bought a nice new amp. I would start and after a few minutes I found myself fidgeting and just couldn't wait to turn the music off. These were powerful SS amps I was using with my Magneplanars and the only change in my system. After some time I found that changing the amp for another equally powerful SS amp resulted in much more pleasing non fatiguing sound. Still listening several hours a day, opinion has not changed.

I don't have the means or the knowledge to test my solid core wire vs my stranded wire. I do know which one I prefer so that's the one I use. If the explanation lies in measurable differences in R,C, or L I certainly would not argue the point. On the other hand, If some one were to conduct the test and and the cables tested identically and then the tester tried to convince me that I was not hearing a difference then I would think the tester was full of BS and was not measuring for the correct factors. Same as with the amps.
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Old 07-28-2015, 09:29 AM   #58
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Well, for many years I believed the result from a test conducted by a learned panel from Stereo Review magazine long ago that concluded that without the shadow of a doubt all amplifiers that have comparable distortion characteristics within a certain power output sound the same. Much latter I discovered it ain't necessarily so. ...
I'd question their statement as well (though I don't recall reading that article myself - but it was a magazine article, lots of fluff in those). There is distortion and there is distortion. Our ears/brain are amazingly sensitive to some things. Some very subtle differences in distortion are very hard to quantify with a measurement - it might be a distortion that increases with certain ratio of tones played together, within a certain frequency band, along with a transient, or whatever. Though amplifiers are not nearly complex as speakers/room, they are complex. Non-linear active components, feedback, passive components that are supposed to be linear but aren't, many elements and parasitics - there is a lot going on.

That said, I do think that if a blind test reliably showed a difference between two similar amps, that there would be something physical there to capture - a reason, not magic. It might be very difficult to identify, but it would be there.

So yes, listening test are the proof. Regardless what the numbers say, if it doesn't sound good to you, it doesn't sound good to you!

But by understanding the numbers with our listening tests, we can scientifically advance the state-of-the-art in sound. The snake-oil sales just distract from that progress. And if we attribute the sound difference to the wrong things (like that red car was faster so red paint makes cars faster; or these solid wire cables sounded better so solid wires are better in cables), then we go down the wrong path. That does not help us advance the state of the art.

Quote:
I don't have the means or the knowledge to test my solid core wire vs my stranded wire. I do know which one I prefer so that's the one I use. If the explanation lies in measurable differences in R,C, or L I certainly would not argue the point. ...
I think that's reasonable. You found what you like, you are satisfied, and that's the whole point. Enjoy!

And I'll stand by my claim that the differences would come down to R, L and C in the cable.

Quote:
On the other hand, If some one were to conduct the test and and the cables tested identically and then the tester tried to convince me that I was not hearing a difference then I would think the tester was full of BS and was not measuring for the correct factors. Same as with the amps.
In an earlier post, I said "I won't 'argue' about what someone says they hear. That is perception, and I can't get in their head.".

But if you consistently ID'd the cables in a blind test, no way can I say you can't hear the difference. You proved it. So it would be up to me to identify the cause. I'm very confident that we would find a frequency/phase shift difference due to RLC. I'm very confident that we could make a cable out of stranded wire with the same characteristics, and that you would not be able to identify them from the 'originals' in a blind test.

My real point here is absolutely not to argue with anyone about what they like. My point is, it would be better to understand why one cable sounds better (assuming it really does sound better). Then we can make cables to your liking, rather than randomly picking high priced cables until you find what you are looking for (which is likely unique to your system, you are probably compensating for speakers/room - the BIG variables, so other people's opinions on their system really won't help you). Although I think a better approach is to make neutral cables, and insert a board into your system that allows us to switch in R L and C combinations if you feel your sound needs to be tweaked. Kinda like an EQ, but without the downsides of all those separate bands, active components, etc.

-ERD50
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Old 07-28-2015, 01:00 PM   #59
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An old speaker cable article by Nelson Pass explaining the RLC's of cables and interactions with speakers and amps. I remember a lot of articles like this. If you have difficult speakers or amps there could be audible differences among cables. If the speaker and amp are closer to ideal, or the distance is very short, the cable won't make as much difference as long as the resistance is low enough.

It reminded me that I do use a pair of Fulton Browns my dad gave me when he upgraded long ago.

https://passlabs.com/articles/speake...e-or-snake-oil

"Frankly, I found it difficult to assess the results except at the extremes of performance. For 10 foot lengths with properly terminated cables and speakers with inductive high frequency characteristics, the differences between low inductance cable and twin conductor are extremely subtle and subject to question. With a low output inductance amplifier and a Heil tweeter (whose impedance is a nearly perfect 6ohm resistive) the difference was discernible as a slightly but not unpleasant softening of the highest frequencies. Fulton or Monster cables were a clear improvement over 24 or even 18 gauge, though a little less subtle than I would have expected, leading me to believe that the effort associated with heavier cables pays off in bass response and in apparent midrange definition, especially at crossover frequencies. The worst case load, the modified Dayton Wright electrostatics, presented some interesting paradoxes: the extremely low impedance involved showed the greatest differences between all the types of cables. However, the best sound cables were not necessarily electrically the best because several amplifiers preferred the highest resistance cable. In one case, I had to use 24 gauge cable to prevent tripping the amplifier's protection circuitry."
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Old 07-28-2015, 02:52 PM   #60
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I'd say 1000 mcm cables to the speakers should be distortion free.
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