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

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Dec 24, 2004.

  1. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Too bad that the Amazing Randi's Million Dollar offer doesn't pertain here!
  2. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢

    Greater Vancouver
    Put me in the never bothered to find out category as well. I can fairly easily distinguish differences between tonality and dynamics of any cables or masterings, but this is another level I've yet to discover so far. With any luck January will be a boring month and I'll give this a try just to see if I can readily hear any difference. Seems to me it might be very cable and equipment brand dependent.
    Extra Dry likes this.
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Anyone have any new thoughts about this?
  4. grumpyBB

    grumpyBB New Member

    portland, oregon
    I've only tried this with one system and only the interconnects. in my system I have some Kimber Kable PBJ's and Vampire Wire SC's between the components and my preamp, and then a long of of home-made CAT 5 interconnects between the preamp and my amps. The Vampire and Kimber cables are all marked directionally and I really didn't notice any difference swapping them around. I did hear a small difference though when I tried it on the long run of CAT 5 between my pre and amps though.

    About 2 years ago I had a place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, cryo treat all of my interconnects, speaker cables and power cords. That made a much bigger difference in sound and was noticeable right away. I tried switching the cables around again a few weeks later but that time I didn't notice any difference in sound whichever way they were running. It seems that the cryo treatment must have removed whatever made the long set of interconnects between my pre and amps sound better one way than the other.
  5. DanK

    DanK Forum Resident

    San Anselmo CA USA
    If your ears are good enough to hear this difference they need to be broken in.
  6. Dreadnought

    Dreadnought Drugged on alien medicine

    Toronto, Canada
    I thought that wire only became directional after a signal had passed through? I think it was Nordost that said this although I'm certain they were speaking of their wire only. And yes Nordost cables have arrows for convenience. My PSAudio ICs have arrows, the matching speaker cables do not. What the heck does that mean?

    Although I haven't heard the difference I admit to fretting over directionality with my unmarked Stereovox coaxial and launching a full scale air, land and sea search of the internet to learn which was the source end. :)

    I find it reassuring that even though one pair of golden ears could hear the difference, Steve could not, which may speak of more meaningful musical values.
  7. sgb

    sgb Senior Member

    Baton Rouge
    I can't speak for wire being cryogenically treated, but I have heard BIG differences between two sets of tubes (same brand). The cryo treated tubes were sweeter and smoother.
  8. grbl

    grbl Just Lurking

    new york
    I have to admit, I never tried it. I'm not even sure mine are hooked up right. I think my interconnects are all bi-directional (don't think there are little arrows), but I can't be entirely sure.
  9. John Moschella

    John Moschella Forum Resident

    Christiansburg, VA
    That depends on how good your instrumentation and processing is, that is not a correct statement.

    My question is what are the physical differences that lead to the arrow designation in the first place? Someone mentioned sheilding connections only at one end, but many ICs are not shielded.

    Personally I never tested this, I just hook up the arrows like they want me to. I have too many other things to test as it is. However, the Kevin story is pretty amazing.
  10. Richard Feirstein

    Richard Feirstein New Member

    Albany, NY
    My friend worked one Summer, a while ago, at Belden, the guys who sell the wire to many vendors. I worked in a lab next door, for a vendor who supplied them with materials. When we read of these claims about copper oxide impurities, etc., from Monster and others their lab guys, PhD's in the metal sciences, fell on the floor holding their sides. :laugh: There may be something to directional claims, and I wish I still had access to those lab guys to ask about this again. But all I can say is that I don't even hear what others report about so called audiophile interconnects.


    BITBANGER Forum Resident

    Milford, CT.
    Here's a new thought: Speakers are like puppets on a string, the thicker the wire the better control the puppeteer has.
    I voted no but I have to admit, I never really tried it. I'm from the old school of thought where only R, C & L matter. I also agree with earlier posts that point out the AC nature of the signal making the point mute. :cheers:
  12. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Motown Legend

    Nashville, TN
    I've never been sure I heard it but my friends who do tell me that some products aren't directional and some become directional after they've been used a while. I've always found connectors to be more audible than wire. I've also heard tightening all of the AC connectors including the service entrance make a lot of wire differences go away.

    As for jitter, the installation of digital video production facilities forced a lot of people to get their act together because they couldn't tell a director pointing at a screen and demanding to know "what the f!@# is THAT?" to go take an ABX test!
  13. Tony Caldwell

    Tony Caldwell Forum Resident

    I have never tried, and I doubt that I could hear a difference. I can accept the fact that others can hear something different.
  14. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢

    Greater Vancouver
    The Grovers are far thinner than a lot of high end cable manufacturers, but absolutely topple them in sound quality IMO. Nice theory though and one I believed as well...until Grover.
  15. Jamie Tate

    Jamie Tate New Member

    I used to work in a studio that had these short, itty bitty patch cables for their patch bay. Most of the time they weren't even long enough to reach from one side of the bay to the other. Finally, after being completely fed up with the situation I asked the studio owner why he bought such short patch cables. He said he could hear the difference between the lengths of cable. I wanted to see this for myself so I copied a track and patched them in with different length cords and asked him to identify them. He got 12 out of 20 correct... just slightly above guessing. :rolleyes:

    I wanted to ask if the blue colored cables sounded any different from the yellow but I didn't.

    I hear the differences in cables. Years ago I re-wired my home stereo with Mogami cable and heard a significant improvement. Now I have Grovers everywhere. But directionality of the same good quality cable? Hmmm, I just don't get it. Re-reading the thread has made me curious though. I think I'll try it out one day.
  16. Jamie Tate

    Jamie Tate New Member

    BTW, what makes one cable directional and another non-directional? Is it marketing? A manufacturing process? Anyone know?
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    I believe it's a deliberate design parameter. Grover wire is non-directional for example..
  18. Jamie Tate

    Jamie Tate New Member

    What about something like Audio Quest or Monster? Are they truly directional or is it an attempt to make their products appear more "high tech"?
  19. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Forum Resident

    Pleasantville, NY
    I have a lot of respect for Ray Kimber who's cables I use. I have never tried to see if I can hear the difference in direction, however, my Kimber Select's come with very well marked arrows so they are clearly designed with a direction intended. I also use Kimber Hero's in my system. They do not come marked with direction but Kimber tells people they will take a "set" after they are used for a while and then should always be used in that direction for best results. The plot thickens. :D
  20. arnie35

    arnie35 New Member

    New Jersey
    I suggest you stop fretting and sleep well!!
  21. arnie35

    arnie35 New Member

    New Jersey
    Yes, that and the structure of metals such as copper are the clincher for me. Unfortunately, it would not be wise to say more.
  22. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    One person I trust in cables is George Cardas whom I have worked with in the studio. He believes in directionality. Ray Kimber is another friend who believes this also.
  23. reb

    reb Money Beats Soul

    Long Island
  24. Lownotes

    Lownotes Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    All of the electrons used in my system go through weeks of rigorous training to learn how to travel in the correct direction.
  25. WVK

    WVK Forum Resident


    JackHammr1 <> wrote:

    >Ok, this may sound a little off, but this is the story given to me by Tom
    >Woodbury of Sonoran Audio Designs, manufacturer of the Desert Cable.

    Now, first we must take into consideration that Mr. Woodbury arguably has
    a vested self-interest in any explanation he proffers, so that should
    lead us to carefully view his theory.

    >When the copper, or any conductor for that matter is drawn into cable,
    >micro crystals form which increase impedance. In one direction, that is.

    Now, Mr. Woodbury makes NO claim here about sound. He merely makes a
    claim about a well defined, well understood, completely and objectively
    verifiable parameter: impedance. His claim is VERY simple and
    straightforward: The impedance with the current going in one direction IS
    different than the impedance with the current going in the other
    direction. THere is no ambiguity to his claim, and thus we can test it.

    Is Mr. Woodbury now willing to show us that his objectively varifiable
    claim is provably correct? It's a VERY simple matter to do: impedance
    measurement is a technique that is extremely well refined and accurate.
    His claim MUST result in a measurably different impedance in one
    direction or the other. Show us, Mr. Woodbury, that this is true.

    Because is is NOT true of any wire that I or anyone else has measured. If
    it IS true of Mr. Woodbury's wire, then I mighht suggest that his
    manufacturing technique is VERY faulty.

    Now, to the inevitable analogy.

    >It's kinda like driving your boat with the back or wide end in front and
    >the pointed end in back. In other words, you're going against the laws of

    Mr Woodbury COMPLETELY ignores the fact that the current DOES NOT FLOW
    UNIDIRECTIONALLY. It is an AC signal that is sent down the cables, so if
    HIS claim about the difference in the directional impedance of the wire
    is true, then even HIS wire MUST suffer from the same phenomenon, because
    the current MUST flow both ways. If he was honest in his boat analogy, he
    MUST say that many times a second, the current in the river COMPLETELY
    reverses itself as a characteristic of the river flow itself, and now,
    how does he explain the value of putting a "One Way" sign on the banks of
    his river? The river flows both ways, sorry, Mr. Woodbury, the analogy
    completely fails.

    Mr. Woodbury's boat analogy is further hopelessly flawed further because
    it rests on a hydrodynamic model that is completely untenable when it
    comes to the flow of electrons through a conductive metallic matrix. His
    boat analogy depends upon the difference between a primarily laminar fluid
    flow in one direction and a primarily turnbulent flow in another, and
    neither conductrive mechanism exists in the flow of electrical current in
    a conductor at the frequencies we are discussing.

    >So, most manufacturers of high end cable label their cables in one
    >direction, or better yet, specify the speaker or amplifier terminus on the
    >cable itself.

    But how do they do that in light of the fact that it is an AC current
    which flows through the cables, and the current is continuously reversing
    itself. This explicitly means that such directional cables MUST BE WRONG
    1/2 THE TIME. This is the inevitable consequence of this sort of flawed
    argument. Sorry, Mr. Woodbury, you loose.

    >Of course, I haven't detected an audible difference either way. So
    >experiment for yourself and decide which way sounds good to you.

    Well, maybe there's a good reason for this.

    >Hope this helps,

    As a basis for debunking a manufacturer's myth and hype, thanks, it is a

    If Mr. Woodbury believes this tale, then I feel for him, for he has
    swallowed a load of tripe. If he KNOWS better, than I loath him for the
    smake oil salesman he is, because every part of his analogy is provably
    wrong, both theoretically and practically.

    Now, never once did either Mr. Woodbury, in this relating of his rather
    fantastical tale, seem to make a claim about sound. What he DID do was
    make a claim about HOW something works, and that's a very different
    thing. His explanation is pure bunk, based either on a complete
    misunderstanding of the physics of conduction or on pure dishonesty, I
    know not which.

    But, there seems to be a curious lack of claims about outstanding sonic
    superiority, and Mr. Hammer's experience would tend to suggest that his
    explanation lacks credibility.

    Of course, Mr. Woodbury may now claim that Mr. Hammer is deaf or his
    system has not the prerequisite resolution, or that the material is
    wrong, or whatever.

    Regardless, Mr. Woodbury, in his representing Sonoran Sound's Desert
    Cable, and his explanation of Desert Cable and conduction phenomenon
    general is bunk, and to that end he and his organization should be held
    accountable and responsible, regardless of how the cable may or may not
    sound in reality.-

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