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Speaker cable selection in 2020.

Speaker cable selection in 2020.

You may have already bought your current speaker cable from the market. Or, which is just as likely, you were presented with some kind of cable in the salon where you bought your first home theater receiver (DK). Or you bought / you were presented with an old amplifier that went without wires / wires turned out to be oxidized / interrupted / short / gnawed by pets. In any case – now you want to figure it out – what kind of special cables are needed for music / DC ?? And are they needed?

Why is it important?

More than 8 years have passed since our “speaker cable guide” appeared, which helped many answer the most common questions regarding the choice of speaker cables for home stereos and cinemas..

During this time, there has been a lot of citing the revelations of a happy man who aired through iXbt and shared the revelation that “cables don’t sound.” Well, there are just a lot of people who, knowing the school physics course, sincerely did not understand – how is it that electrons care how to run. Plus, the general state of the economy does not dispose to experimental tests of the theory about the sound of a cable, and therefore people solve the problem of the sound level of their systems in two ways: either trusting the expert opinion (ours or friends / acquaintances) and purchasing well-known cable products, or iteratively – they bought what was at hand (or inexpensively, within the limits of their budget) received a negative result, they came for advice to professionals. In principle, there is nothing new in this – all the same old wisdom about a person who pays twice.

Therefore, by combining the experience of this live communication with our clients, it became necessary to give answers to the most common questions and at the same time tell what new (and whether) has appeared in the audiophile cable industry..

And therefore meet – “Choice of speaker cable. Part 2 .”

As before, let’s start with the basics. The basis of any cable is the material of the conductor and in the case of speaker cables, in the overwhelming majority of cases it will be copper.

Copper – its quality – certainly has a lot to do with the sound of a cable. But the value of the insulation of the conductors, the geometric structure of the arrangement of the conductors relative to each other and the directionality of the cable should not be pushed aside. We had an experiment with twisted pair (hello, a la ixbt experts, who tell us that cables do not sound and “you can make a cable from ordinary twisted pair that will be no worse or even better than your audiophile acoustic ones.” same ardent greetings for the birth of the concept of “audio cable for acoustics”). For the purity of the experiment, a twisted pair of Supra Cat 7 was taken, combined into a stereo cable and listened to in comparison with Supra Rondo 2×2.5 and Supra Ply 3.4 in a blind test. Copper is the same, the only difference was in the design.

The result of this listening was that the person kept the Supra Ply cable for himself in the system, and left this twisted pair to us in the Museum of those who do not believe in the sound of cables..

We also regularly communicate with representatives of the older generation, who are nostalgic / believe in the special audiophile properties of Soviet copper, and with younger followers of their teachings, who speak about the special benefits of electric cables produced by Odessa cables for sound. Earlier there were comparative wiretaps in the systems of such audiophiles, but over time, universal recipes simply appeared – depending on the preferences in the sound of the system / the history of the formation of musical tastes, universal recipes from the 5000th Neotech line appeared. So yes – copper purity for audio cables is important and audible.

Directionality of the cable.

Request in the online consultant: “I bought branded wires to connect audio speakers to a stereo amplifier. They have a pointer – an arrow. Is it necessary to connect them exactly according to the arrow and what does it give? According to the laws of physics, it is absurd, but for some reason they are labeled? “

Sarcasm ON. It is certainly a pity that you did not buy them from us. It is not necessary to connect in the direction of the arrow, however, it is not necessary to use any special wires.

The “absurdity” of which particular laws would you like to consider in relation to the directionality of speaker cables? Sarcasm OFF .

Now seriously – yes, cables sound and have direction. The directionality of the cable is given by the process of pulling the hot conductor through the dies. And yes – physicists have already explained why such a change in sound occurs – this is due to stray currents and earth loops in the circuits from the source to the acoustics.

But at the household level, it is quite enough to hear the difference with your own ears in your own system – an incorrectly connected cable will not give a scene, speakers and a full high-frequency range.

Once again, the directionality of the speaker cable is a very important aspect that many customers find out of the brackets. It would seem that I already listened to the advice / read the forums / consulted with us – I bought a cable, but I didn’t know how to connect it. But it is the direction of the cable connection that is a very important component of the overall success of the correct organization of cable management, which depends on you! Physically, the orientation of the crystal lattice in cables is due to the process of drawing molten copper of the conductor through the dies in the manufacture of veins, from which the conductor is then twisted.

And figuratively it is easy to imagine the difference between correct and incorrect cable connection by analogy with that, you go down the hill or climb the hill – the path is the same, but the sensations differ significantly.

Note. Both interconnect and speaker cables are connected according to the same principle – from the signal source to the receiver. How to determine the direction of the cable? The direction is indicated on the outer insulation in the form of an arrow (or if it was not specially depicted, then the direction is indicated by the text itself – the beginning of the inscriptions should be from the side of the source and the inscription itself should go to the signal receiver)

Optimal speaker cable size and correct speaker wire placement.

Important note – “size” should be understood as the length of the cables, not their cross-section. Perhaps, the most common question of our clients in this context is “Is it possible to connect acoustics with wires of different lengths?”. Indeed, often the systems are not in a specially dedicated (and designed and prepared) listening room (Efficiency), but where there is / there is space in the living room. Therefore, the rack with the equipment can stand in the corner next to one speaker system, and the distance to the second system will be several times greater.

What to do in this case? For clarity, let’s look at an example of our client – initially he planned to buy a 1.5m cable to the left speaker and 4.5m to the right speaker. As you can see, the difference in length is 3 times.

Ideally, of course, you need wires of the same length. But in this case (not to mention the cost factor), the best solution would be to take wires 2.5 and 4 m. The difference in length will not be so big (initially 4.5 m to the right was planned “with a margin”) and the second ( more serious) error. The wrong solution in this case would be to take the wires of the same length and the one that has excess length, just wind it up in a ring and hide it behind the column. The simpler the cable (i.e. it has the classic design of two parallel wires in single-layer insulation), the more negative the consequences will be.

A ring of coiled cable is an additional LC circuit, which, at least, will introduce phase distortions in the operation of acoustics, and at most, will act as an antenna for receiving electromagnetic radiation from the surrounding electronics. Correct arrangement of wires – no rings, no tension, no weight. If for some reason the cable hangs in the air and does not lie on the floor – put a wooden support under it – this will remove mechanical stress from the speaker terminals and will guarantee that the bananas on the cable will not bend / break.

Yes, for expensive High End systems there are also special supports for the cable so that static electricity does not accumulate on the surface of the cable, but it is unlikely that our readers are planning (at the current stage) to spend hundreds of dollars on such solutions.

Correct speaker cable installation and design. The choice of wire cross-section for acoustics.

Very often there is a situation when the future owner did not tell the designer / builders about his desire to have an audio system. And as a result, we have a problem not with the choice of section, but with the choice of color and laying of the acoustic cable. Speaker cable manufacturers know about such cases firsthand, and therefore speaker cables have different colors of insulation. But even if you haven’t found the right color or the design of your room requires non-trivial colors – there are acoustic cables for painting.

The Supra Flat cable, in addition to being paintable, has a very small thickness – it can be glued and then painted! But if you do everything in a timely manner, then the best way of concealed installation of acoustic cables is to lay them in a corrugated pipe / cable channel / plinth separately from the power wiring. If this is not possible and you need to run many cables together, then you can minimize the influence of adjacent cables on the speaker by using a shielded speaker cable such as Supra Ply / S.

If the builders offer to wedge the cable into the wall in the groove “yes, I have done this a thousand times!”, Then perhaps you should look towards the classic line of the same Supra Cables – it does not boast of thick insulation, but will offer you tinned conductors along the entire length that will not oxidize (like ordinary copper cables) if the insulation is damaged. If space permits, then you should pay attention either to the installation models from TTAF (which, in addition to the greater insulation thickness, also have CL2 compliance for use in residential premises), or to Neotech cables, in which the insulation has a two-layer construction that provides maximum protection of conductors without loss of flexibility of the wire.

Another common question – “Is it possible to connect acoustics with wires of different cross-sections?” As we discussed in the examples above, you can. But only if you treat the sound of your system like a radio outlet. If you want to get Sound, to achieve the highest possible sound quality of your system – no, you cannot.

As an illustrative example: speaker cable Supra SKY 2X1.6mm – cable resistance: 11.4 Ohm / km, speaker cable Supra SKY 2X4.0 mm2 – cable resistance: 4.3 Ohm / km. The cables have the same design, are made of the same copper, but only due to the cross-section they have a run-up only in resistance by 2.65 times. And what can I say if the cables are from different manufacturers, from copper of different degrees of purification, with different insulations?

In this case, the following question arises: “how to choose the cross-section of the speaker cable?” On the Internet there are even some online calculators “How to choose wires for acoustics” for such calculations. But they do not take into account the peculiarities of your particular situation, the resistance of your acoustics and the distances to the speaker systems. Since the sound (load) of the speaker system is not at all the same as the boiling time of the kettle / the power of the iron, there can be no exact formula for calculating the cross-section of the speaker cable. But this is good – there are basic recommendations, and the choice is yours.

First: the higher the cross-section, the more freely your acoustics “breathes”. The higher the cross-section, the lower the resistance of the wires, the easier it is for the amplifier to “swing” the acoustics. The same rule applies when choosing the cross-section of long-length speaker cables – with increasing length, the cross-section also grows in order to obtain the lowest possible total cable resistance. How can this be applied in practice?

Suppose you have shelf acoustics, the distance between the amplifier and the speakers is 2m. A cable cross-section of 2×1.6 mm2 in this case will be quite enough. But if you plan to listen to music loudly, if your amplifier is not very powerful, then it makes sense to put a cable with a cross section of 2×2.5 mm2. But 2×4 mm2 in such a system will already be overpaid money in vain.

But if you have the same shelf units in another room (second listening area), then the cross-section of 2×2.5 mm2 becomes the minimum recommended, and 2×4 mm2 is already possible..

Beewiring. What is bee-wiring and will there be any gain from it?

The cable industry is not a “thing in itself” – cable engineers sometimes just catch up on the innovations that speaker designers have brought in. So, with the proliferation of two-terminal acoustic systems, it became possible to connect acoustics for bi-wiring / biamping, removing the standard jumpers from the acoustics. (here a passing question arises, “What does the replacement of jumpers with wires on the speakers give?” Often, manufacturers put jumpers made of brass and replacing them with wires made of high-quality copper gives an increase in reproduction in the MF / HF range). And a person who has bought modern acoustics, has an acoustic cable left over from the previous system, who wants to know “what is bi-wiring and will there be any gain from it?” often asks the question: “Is it possible to connect acoustics for biviring with wires of different cross-sections?” Here you need to correctly understand where the wires of different cross-sections come from?

If this is a factory cable of special bi-wiring design and the manufacturer deliberately uses different materials / cross-sections for the LF / HF bands, then the answer is definitely “yes”. Although often cable manufacturers, in the care that customers do not boil their brains when choosing / connecting cables, they make all 4 wires of the same cross-section, and therefore cables with different cross-sections and complex designs have a different price tag and their advanced audiophiles, who know the answer thanks to many years of practice to the original question about the section. We will consider the situation in which newcomers find themselves, who mean by “wires of different cross-sections” the situation when an “old” cable with a cross-section of 2×2.5mm2 wants to be put on the MF / HF range in a new acoustics, and to buy the same / different on the LF cable 2×4 mm2.

Those. put 2 wires side by side and in this, at first glance, logical and simple way to get the desired bi-wiring in your system. Again, as in the example above – you can do this if it is important for you to simply “attach” the wires so that they do not lie idle. There will be no benefit to sound from such a connection. wires have different characteristics, two parallel wires will influence each other, forming a capacitive circuit, and as a result, the speaker system will receive an additional invisible crossover at the output, which with a 98% probability will not sound the way its engineers intended.

What’s new in the cable industry over the years?

Let’s start with the negative – the purchasing power of the population has been falling all these years. Novice audiophiles were no exception, and the easiest way to save money on a hi-fi system was “Buying cables for $ 1000 is stupid. “, And therefore the market has found an offer for this category of buyers as well:.

Copper fish. What is copper beetle and how does it affect the sound. Copper is a common name for speaker cables made of aluminum, but covered with copper – CCA copper clad (cover) aluminum.

We can go back on an excursion into the past, to the lovers of “Soviet copper”. When the USSR also decided to save money on construction, the obvious solution was to replace copper wiring with aluminum. Time has shown the erroneousness of this decision and today the question “What to make the wiring in the apartment from?” has an unambiguous answer – copper.

If even in such an unpretentious matter as electrical wiring, copper is necessary, then why in a more delicate area, which is high-quality reproduction, aluminum will give a positive result? Of course it will not, and of course such wires are categorically contraindicated for audio purposes. Even in terms of resistance, aluminum has a resistance of about 60% higher than that of copper, and it is difficult to imagine what destructive effect an aluminum-copper sandwich of unknown quality will produce on sound. We did not dare to carry out such experiments in view of their complete absurdity.

Better to buy a shorter cable, smaller cross-section, worse cleaning, etc. but copper.

And now – positive.

Mono-cores. The skin effect is already

scientifically proven fact, because the appearance of mono wires in an area in which the difference between the conductors is audible to the “naked ear” was only a temporary delay in the reaction of cable manufacturers. What is the theoretical progress in mono-core? Due to the fact that the electrons under the influence of the skin effect do not waste time jumping from vein to vein inside a stranded conductor, rushing to the free – to the surface, and immediately have the ability to move along the outer surface, the maximum transmission speed of the sound signal is achieved. And due to the fact that the surface area of ​​a mono-core is greater than that of a stranded core of the same total cross-section, the effective bass component of the signal is higher for the mono-core.

The opposite is also true – a mono-conductor of a smaller cross-section will sink at the level of a thicker multicore. Neotech confirmed its technological leadership in the cable industry with the release of the NEMOS line of speaker cables in 2016, which uses flat mono conductors, and round mono conductors are used even in the democratic 5000 line of speaker cables from the Japanese professor Oino. Mono-conductors have their own nuances in cutting – they are not as versatile and as usual for cutting as multicore cables, but our experience and the experience of our customers suggests that the sound of mono-conductors is a new step in the growth of the sound of the system.

And if your budget allows, then you can immediately start from this level..

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