Can you hear the "directionality" of interconnects and speaker wire? Kevin LaTour can.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Follower of Hi-Fi

    New Mexico USA
    Mmmark likes this.
  2. Mr_Vinyl

    Mr_Vinyl Forum Resident

    I can, but only with certain cables. I was auditioning a pair of Cardas once that I had accidentally put in backwards and wondered why everything sounded ''shut-in''. When I inverted them to the proper direction, the sound opened up, but with a huge boomy bass, so I didn't like these interconnects either way, but yes, there was a big difference in this case.
  3. tootull

    tootull Cats are on the upgrade

    Difference between Directional & Non Directional Speaker cable? | What Hi-Fi? » could be said that "Cables that are not particularly directional from new will become so when used, and cables that are very directional will not sound right if installed in the wrong direction".

    Todd W. likes this.
  4. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Senior Member

    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Given that audio is an AC signal which changes direction from 20 to 20,000 times per second it is difficult to imagine how there could be a directional preference. With a DC signal this could be fathomable if a wire were behaving in a manner reminiscent of a diode.

    Also, a test in which the tester knows the answer is not double blind and could just indicate that the testee has a knack for reading the tester.

    But perhaps I should know better that to introduce scientific fact into an audiophile debate.
    CDV, Shawn, rnranimal and 2 others like this.
  5. Mr_Vinyl

    Mr_Vinyl Forum Resident

    There's nothing wrong with introducing scientific knowledge, but Steve merely asked if we can hear a difference, so this isn't about a debate at all.
  6. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Senior Member

    Lawrenceville, NJ
    I voted Never Bothered to Find Out. I similarly have never tried to circle the globe to verify that it is round.

    But it did seem worth pointing out that electrons travel both ways to precisely equal degrees (equal in number, velocity, and frequency of direction shift) on an audio cable no matter which end is connected to the amp.
    CDV, Shawn, L5730 and 1 other person like this.
  7. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    Why do you do this to us Mr. Hoffman???

    I've worked in the glamorous world of wire & cable for the past 18 years (don't be jealous). One of the "perks" of said industry are the plant visits/tours/training you get to go on. The majority of the cables sold in the audio trade are manufactured by 3rd parties, not the brands we all know and love. On several occasions I've caught a glimpse of those brands on packaging as I'd be touring the plants and I thought it was kind of cool to see where they were actually being made. Most of them are "off the shelf" constructions with custom color jackets/sleeving and print legends. Some specify conductor, shielding or insulation tweaks to standard products as well. Any change to a standard construction comes with a hefty minimum run (think 5000' or more) as well as a higher price.

    During one multi-day training session at one of the biggest wire and cable manufacturers in the world I was shocked to hear the Broadcast/AV Product Manager call out audiophile brands, a very well-known one whose cables I actually have in mys system, as wanting to have arrows in the print legend. He mentioned how the engineers chuckled but agreed to give the customer what they asked for.

    Seeing how the cables are made and function I believe there ARE differences in a well-made cable and a cheap cable. But in terms of directionality I'm with the engineers in that it does not make an audible difference.
    CDV and Shawn like this.
  8. KevinM93

    KevinM93 New Member

    Sorry to be late to the party. Yes, I can, and Kevin himself taught me. He sold me my SOTA Sapphire turntable and my McIntosh MA230 tube amp, which, if I recall, actually has a phase switch. When the amp is out of phase, it sounds like the sound is coming from everywhere at once. When the sound is in phase, it sounds like it is coming from the center of the speakers, radiating outwards. It's very distinct, especially if you have a switch that you can throw back and forth to help you learn the difference. Hope this helps!
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Bumped and stickied in Audio Hardware by special request.
  10. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    Excluding where the shielding is attached, if attached on one side (someone else can talk about that and how it might affect sound), what is different?

    If it is single crystal (I seem to recall about 25 years ago that Mr. Lee of Harmonic Technology, now of Acoustic Zen said there was a metallurgical grain boundary about every 300-500' in their single crystal wire, so assuming you do not get a cable made from that "unlucky portion", of course), surface smoothness.

    If it is not single crystal, then the metallurgical grains/grain boundaries are "opposite" bc the flow of current is now in the opposite direction(and surface smoothness, is "opposite" as mentioned above with single crystal).

    Is there a change in the change in the electromagnetic field when they are placed in opposite orientations?


    I strongly believe, no, even in the case of shielding only attached on one side. If that is not the case, then I think a fundamental law of physics was broken.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
    CDV and Ingenieur like this.
  11. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Forum Resident

    SF Peninsula
    LOL Steve your bumping so many cable/audio tweaks, detractors will have their head spinning on where to stand and draw a line in the sand.
  12. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    I see why this thread was picked, there is a lot of interesting stuff in here from folks I wish still posted more frequently :) Even if you can or can't hear it (or bothered) there is some good reading here.

    Me? I've tried, but still consider myself too inexperienced to verify / commit to what I think I've heard.... but it's all about sample size and experience, something of which some on this thread have a lot more than me.
  13. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    I didnt even read it, and just now see Steve started it...



    Ooops... :)

    I just voted, ("never tried to find out", and I am a bit ashamed of myself for that:tsk:).

    The tally currently stands at 37% yes, 10% no, and 53% never tried to find out.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
    4-2-7 likes this.
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I can't hear directionality at all. I've lost the skill (if I ever had it and wasn't just kidding myself.)
    Ilusndweller and TheVinylAddict like this.
  15. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    I noted your "50% sure" post earlier :)

    I'll just defer to those who can hear better than me, these days with my tinitus and other hearing loss, I'm afraid my days of be able to discern now are behind me. I do sometimes marvel at what some people can hear though.

    EDIT: There is one person here that I know for a fact that can "hear" subtle differences very well - when I visited Cali in 2018, I spent a day with him speaker shopping, listening and more. He knows who he is, he changed a lot of my view on what can / can't be heard.... it was educational in many ways. I was most impressed how he could pick out something that changed, I'd be skeptical, but after going back and forth another time, there it was.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
  16. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    imo the conductor orientation makes no difference. The only factor is how the shield is grounded, it may make a difference.

    In I&C engineering it's tied on the receiving end/input. Which is actually the source, it supplies the current for the 4-20 mA loop.

    In audio the convention seems to be the signal end.

    I guess the theory is to absorb RFI and shunt or drain to ground. imo acts more like an antenna and the signal will oscillate in the shield.

    My system has low noise, 100% volume on 39 + 28 dBV gain 12 mV at speaker. At 50% 0.2 mV
    I just bought some Mogami 'directional' shield tired at one end. Going to use them TT to SOLO. as an experiment.

    This a good basic introduction.
    Ilusndweller likes this.
  17. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    i read somewhere that on some cables it had to do with the direction of the drawing process, that electrons tend to flow better in the direction of squeezing the material down to its final gauge.

    i answered that i never bothered to find out, not that i am lazy, just that i am an obedient audiophile and always follow the direction of the arrow.
  18. Hardcore

    Hardcore Quartz Controlled

    I’ve only got one directional cable (Chord Clearway) coming out of my 1200G. I did have it the wrong way around at first until I noticed the arrow and switched it.

    I have to say I have the same suspicions as wgb113 above, I think they’ve just got some off the shelf cable, put their own plugs and badges on it and sold it to me at a huge markup.
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    That's what I was told. And I just make sure the wire is hooked up the right way. Then I forget about it. Life is too short..
    timind likes this.
  20. Ilusndweller

    Ilusndweller S.H.M.F.=>Reely kewl.

    Columbus, Ohio
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2021
    Hardcore likes this.
  21. Hardcore

    Hardcore Quartz Controlled

    That’s a reasonable explanation. So what about my cables without them, can I get Kev to pop over?
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2021
  22. I’ve been a Cardas user for many years now. I’ve always placed them in the systems according to the direction usually marked by a sort of arrow.

    I’ll be installing all new Cardas cables and speaker wire this week but noticed in one picture I couldn’t see any arrows marked on them. The next time I talked to Cardas I asked about it and was told to always install with the printing in the normal reading direction (preferably downstream I would imagine). Thus, in the case of removing them you always reinstall in the same direction.

    In the case of the speaker wire it can only be installed in the proper direction due to the special speaker termination spade lugs at one end.

    I always want to go down the straight and arrow road.
    timind likes this.
  23. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    I've always viewed you as one of the least "obedient" or "lazy" listeners out there :) (that's a compliment)..... I'd be floored if you didn't put that cable in the other way, at least once....
    avanti1960 likes this.
  24. I love the part I bolded. So boutique cable companies ask the cable manufacturers to print arrows on the cables, even though it’s purely random which way those arrows are facing? Too funny. It just shows the contempt those cable companies must have for their customers.
  25. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    Copper wire is extruded, not drawn.
    A solid ingot is heated until soft. It is pushed thru a die (extruded, drawn is pulled thru) into a thread. This is reheated (close to melting point) and quenched (annealing), this makes it malleable and makes it homogeneous. It almost flows thru the die, so not stretched into direction strands. It is one homogenous piece.

    The electrons on the surface see the same path both directions since they oscillate and only move mm's in several hours.

    Shielding orientation can make a difference at very low levels like phono.
    I don't have ears that could detect 'direction'.

Share This Page