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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. BTW was this wire you used to beef up the traces polarized the same as the traces you soldered to?

  2. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    I believe if you can hear something, it can be measured. The problem is knowing what to measure. I don't have the answer you are looking for. :shake:
  3. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    :confused: I was not thinking about anything except lowering the resistance of the path. This was for +/- 24v DC. Originally the design was for +/- 21v. It did much to stiffen the sluggish low frequency response that console was known for.
  4. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member

    Pleasantville, NY
    FWIW, I use Kimber Kable in my system, most of it is Kimber Select which come with a designated signal flow direction, however, in some parts of the system I use Kimber Hero which Ray Kimber describes as a poor man's Select. I does not have a designated direction, however, in conversations with Ray he has said that it definitely will take a set with use and that direction should then be used it the cable is moved.
  5. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk Grounded Space Cadet

    Manufacturer's recommendations should come in to play here -- I.E. whatever they say. If they don't say, then it shouldn't matter -- in which case, you should probably pick a direction and stick with it. I use the writing on the cable -- beginning of the words go towards the source, end of words go towards the destination.
  6. :yikes: :yikes:
    That's like asking the wolf to guard the hen house.

  7. platinum ear

    platinum ear New Member

    My sentiments exactly.
    To those that truly believe that cables can be directional please consider the following train of logic:
    Firstly, as has been mentioned time and time again, the voltages and currents that we're dealing with here are AC not DC. Therefore, any audible (or measurable) directionality could only be explained by the unlikely (but theoretically possible) concept of directional impedance. If directional impedance exists then its effect would be to (albeit minutely) introduce assymmetry. Unfortunately, assymmetry = distortion. Therefore, if we can hear or measure the effects of reversing a cable then we are merely hearing either the summation or cancellation of other assymmetries in the system as a whole.
    My take on this is that if I can hear a directional effect then it implies that the cable is introducing distortion. Therefore, the best cables are those that sound the same in either direction. The one exception where cable polarisation is legitimate is where an earth sheild is provided from the 'clean' signal source. This is commonly used in balanced professional systems with long signal runs - as has already been pointed out.

    A few more points. Firstly, unlike video and radio systems, hi-fi audio interconnects are not true transmission lines because the terminating impedance is never at the characteristic cable impedance. A typical coaxial interconnect will exhibit about 100pF per foot or 300pF per metre. Therefore, the use of long cables will introduce enough capacitance to roll off hf response and increase hf distortion due to the driving demands made of the source. The best speaker cables will be those that store the least amount of energy (i.e. have the least amount of capacitance and inductance), and are designed such that the capacitance and inductance tend to cancel each other out. The problem with cables is less to do with the cables themselves and far more to do with the effects they have on the components connected to them. Lastly, remember, a long but very expensive cable is always worse than a short cheaper one.
    krisbee likes this.
  8. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time

    I've heard sonic improvements from wires (and other metal parts) being cryogenically frozen which alters the crystal structure of the wire. Ed Meitner is a big proponent of this.

    If the wire is drawn copper, could it not also be possible that for that reason alone wire has directionality?
  9. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk Grounded Space Cadet

    (Emphasis mine.) Your argument fails right there, because it doesn't allow for the possibility of ignorance. Good science not only allows for the possibility of being incorrect, the obvious extrapolation to that is that it also allows for the as yet unexplained.

    I mean, we already know about pseudo-shielding (or perhaps more correctly -- almost complete shielding, as it is shielding for 99% of the cable) -- which your "argument", if correct, would also trump. (Almost-complete shielding changes the character of the sound of a cable by disallowing RF interference.)
  10. apileocole

    apileocole Lush Life Gort

    Considered. I appreciate the logic. I have to conclude the theory is correct insofar as the asserted factors, but its conclusions are incorrect as the theories are too simple; some factors are left out, including, I suppose, the possibility of all kinds of other items (including in the components involved) playing some direct or quite indirect hand. Of course it's hard for us to say. Even folks who know far, far more on the matter than any of us here in scientific terms appear to reach all sort of differing conclusions. Tony mentions Mr. Kimber asserting the effects of burn-in, which my (far more limited and humble) experience appears to contradict. As Peter says above, there is also the possibility that we don't have the relevant scientific understanding. Anyway, Steve was asking if a person did or not, and if so to describe it; I suggest we don't venture into much further debate yea or nay to this or that, lest we wander far into the subjective / objective area this forum (mercifully) strives to avoid.
  11. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Spain (EU)
    Interesting idea.
  12. LeeS

    LeeS Martini Time

    I don't buy this. I, C and R definitely impact the signal flowing over the wire.
  13. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Spain (EU)
    True, but the signal flowing over the wire comes from the hardware, it is not generated - hopefully - by the wire itself. Hence the idea of the hardware being affected.
  14. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Vancouver, BC, CA
    I still am amazed by what a difference I heard. I would assume that what music you pump through your system during the test is certainly important. I was using the Beach Boys' "Sunflower/Surf's Up" CD remaster from 2000. I kept mainly comparing the tracks "Cool, Cool Water" and "Lookin' At Tomorrow (A Welfare Song)". I plan to try some other albums in the near future and to have a friend help me do a blind test.
  15. Metoo

    Metoo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Spain (EU)
    Drifter, I did my test with the "Morph The Cat" DVD-A stereo track.
  16. soundQman

    soundQman Forum Resident

    Arlington, VA, USA
    Someone previously correctly stated that interconnects are not really designed as transmission lines. There is always an impedance mismatch between preamp and amp, and unless the impedance of the wire is zero, the mismatch between the interconnect and the components will probably have some small effect on signal transmission as well. I think this means there will be a reflected wave of some magnitude even if it is very small, at each interface in question, superimposed on the main signal. I realize this is an attempt to apply an RF model to audio frequencies, so I don't know how valid this argument is, but I have heard it made by some cable designers who think the RF model has some application when you are considering transmission of very high frequencies in the audio or near-audio band. That might be one reason you want your cable to have very low impedance across the board - low R, L, and C. There are cables like the Goertz that have focused on very low inductance design because many high-end power amps are designed to act as current sources rather than voltage sources.

    Concerning the thread topic - I don't think I've heard a plausible argument yet as to why there could be a directional difference. I'm not saying it's impossible - just that I haven't heard a convincing explanation.
  17. platinum ear

    platinum ear New Member

    Your statement is partially correct. However, the L, C, and R are all linear quantities and cannot themselves generate non linear distortions.
    However, as a real example of what I was implying, your usual voltage feedback op-amp will generate more high frequency distortion when driving a long cable due to the highly capacitive load. This is because the output current swing will be progressively beyond the most linear operating region and also because the output voltage will progressively lag behind output current, delaying the feedback signal. The same is also true where power amplifiers are used with long speaker cables that have significant capacitance. To overcome this problem in small signal stages a resistor is usually inserted at the output to decouple the capacitive load from the op-amp output stage. This keeps the amplifier stable but of course the resistor and load capacitance will form a low pass filter pole that will reduce bandwidth. The op-amps that are used in most CD player will generally have about 220 ohms of output resistance, so driving a few metres of cable is usually fine but there will be a definite and measurable increase in distortion as the cable length is increased.
    Whether your cables are directional, expensive or cheap, the best cable is always the shortest one.

    FTR, my power amps sit on a plinth between the speakers and my speaker cables are only 1 metre long. I use a rather special preamp that's designed to drive a 7 metre interconnect from the hi-fi cabinet to the PAs. The preamp has a measured THD of less than 0.0001% @ 10Khz driving the long cable. Regardless of what can be heard and can't be measured, my efforts to reduce measurable non linear distortions are all audible as well. This includes cable effects too.

    BTW, as yet I haven't tried reversing my speaker cables but will do so and will attempt to be objective.
  18. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Berkeley, CA
    I never really investigated, but I can express a preference one way or the other on cables that can be reversed. It's not a huge difference.

    At one point I recall speaker cable makers suspecting it was something more to do with the direction of manufacture than anything else, and probably the insulation rather than the conductor..
  19. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    I don't disagree with this. Agreed that you're basing this on RF behavior but I've made similar arguments before. I think standing waves may come into play, though many have stated that they're insignificant at audio frequencies. Who really knows? Some cable makers suggest termination networks on the far end of the cable to lessen the chance of reflections.

    The bottom line is as much as we know, there is still quite a bit that we don't know. Fortunately our ears don't descriminate. They pretty much hear all factors whether we understand them or not.
  20. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident

    I connected a coupling capacitor for my amplifier in the wrong direction. It's not electrolytic (I've never got that wrong!), so it's does not have polarity. The coupling cap has a "lead" end, and a "shield" end; I got them backwards. I realized I made a mistake before powering up, but thought it would be a great opportunity to hear if it made any difference. I heard it right away. The "wrong way" cap had a high end roll-off on that channel, while the "correct" cap on the other channel sounded fine.

    TONEPUB Forum Resident

    Portland, Oregon
    I've done this at AudioQuest with raw wire before they make it into cables. Fortunately, I was 10 for 10. But that's what they do with every batch of wire. Joe Harley listens to each batch personally and marks it so they know which way to put the arrows on the finished cables. I'm pretty sure they do the same thing at Cardas as well.
  22. stuwee

    stuwee Forum Resident

    Tucson AZ
    I haven't read the other posts, so forgive me if mine has been said before, IMHO, when you connect and disconnect an IC you are cleaning the build up of oxygenation of the transfer of elecothingies, you will hear a diff just by doing that if you haven't touched them in awhile. That said, I still hear a diff in some nicer IC's, even though I don't know why.

    'Death Grip' IC's have no place in a system if you value your older, vintage gear. Period. Overkill is still overkill and hindsight is never a good dance partner :sigh:

    So I vote yes!
  23. rockitman

    rockitman Active Member

    I have never bothered to find out....sounds like an awfully painful, tedious (mentally), experiment.
  24. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    south florida, usa
    Get yourself a fine set of speaker cables that you like with your stereo and it's overwith. Mine cost $10 plus $25 shipping. 23' long each, perfect.
  25. tootull

    tootull talisman

    Like I said, food for thought - Not that I believe in this, until...
    My little test:
    I have Monster® THX™ speaker cable with directional cues. The Infinity EMIT tweeter in my centre speaker had a slight edge to the vocal when wired directionally the wrong way.


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