Separating speaker cable conductors

November 29, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

37 comments on “Separating speaker cable conductors”

  1. I split my ‘hot’ (+ve) & ‘return’ (-ve) 1.5mm dia. solid core copper loudspeaker
    wires & have permanently spaced them 2 – 3 inches apart, resulting in a
    noticeable improvement in overall sound quality from my home-audio rig.

  2. Audio myth over and over again. Audiophile forums are full of speaker cable sound wisdom. Up to 20 kHz and if the conductor is thick enough to provide a very low resistance (resistance is proportional to length) the inductance as well the capacitance does not really matter electrically. Going higher say 100 kHz it may. If something changes the sound (better or worse) then it must be something wrong with the amplifers behaviour or at least the loudspeaker sound better or worse when the driving impedance (amplifier output plus cable) changes. Of course with different cables this may influence the sound. One word to the crossed wires in the cable Paul mentioned. For sure this will increase the resistance because of additional length. But indeed compared to the loudspeakers impedance (4 to 8 ohms nominal with dips down to 2 ohms) the wire resistance is small when e.g. a monster cable not too long is used.

    1. It amuses me when cable-deniers use words like, “myth” and phrases like, “snake oil” as they purport using the exact same level of “science” to they just claimed to debunk.

      I like to bring up HDMI spec in these instances. If you really want to put an end to all this cable mythology, go read the white papers on the evolution of the HDMI spec. How do you think they can constantly increase the data rates of analog driven “digital” signal without changing the over all form factor? Do they mix in some snake oil? Do they sacrifice chickens to the cable Gods? No…it’s simple cable geometry. That’s it. They keep improving the geometry, lowering the resistance, controlling inductance, shielding electrical signals. They don’t even use silver or high purity copper. It’s also smaller gauge than telephone wire and cheap.

      Therefore, it’s hypocritical to deny that speaker cables, power cables, or data cables, have no effect on the end result but accept that an HDMI cable can go from 10 gbps to 48 gbps.

      1. Hi Brandon, you are right, there is a lot of myth about cables created by eager marketing people in order to sell high priced cables. Because not all audiophiles have an BS in electrical engineering (and this is good because we need medical doctors and other disciplines for our daily life) they do not really understand the properties of cables. So it may amuse you why there are people like me talking of myths. The HDMI example you presented is in no way representative for loudspeaker cables. HDMI is much higher frequencies and since signals are digital (but electrically analog) the propagation of a rectangle signal should be as far as possible also rectangluar on the receiving side. What I talk about is audio frequency on a low resistance cable. If the inductance and capacitance (which is really there) would make an audible difference, one could measure this as comparison between input and output with a null test. As far as I found in the internet some guys did this and there was no difference regarding sound degradation. I do not say that a cable will make no difference, it can happen. But the reasons are elswhere not the cable itself if it is strong enough. It is the combination of amplifier, cable and loudspeaker. If one specific cable did alter a system for better (subjective) sound, to my opinion this is only valid for just this combination and can not be generalized that all systems will sound better when using this cable or brand. Anyway hearing tests are very subjective.

        1. Guten tag Sven,
          My 1.5mm solid core (dirty copper) electrical wire, that I’ve used for nearly thirty years now, cost me AU$0.65 per metre in 1993 & I could hear an improvement in SQ from my home-audio rig when I separated them out…see my post above.

            1. Hi Peter,
              I never went ‘there’ & so I can’t really give a credible answer to that hypothesis.
              I have, on & off, spent the last 29 years comparing the ‘sound’ of the 1.5mm dia. solid core wires that I use, with dedicated, multi-strand HiFi loudspeaker wire up to AU$60 per metre & I have found that the solid core, specifically 1.5mm diameter wire, controls the bass far better than any reasonably priced, dedicated (sold as) HiFi, multi-strand loudspeaker wire that I have auditioned during that time, at an absolute fraction of the price.

        2. Hi I remember during the 70s electronic engineers saying it was impossible to get different sound with different amplifiers….
          Impedance is a measure Ok, but the fact is that in cables what we have is the propagation of an electromagnetic field through a conductive material, Cu Ag Platinum, etc. That electromagnetic field can be and actually is affected by created fields due to changes in that electromagnetic field propagated, as a very different example what is it an inductance? So in brand cables as an example the fields created by the changing field affect the cables differently than in a solid cable. This physical facts are undeniable. Other matter is how it affects. But a Platinum cable propagate an electromagnetic field differently form a solid Cu , pure or impure Cu.
          In my experience is, that changing a branded Cu speaker cable 100% pure
          Cu for the well know Van der Hul Revelation the change was unanimously appretaited by the groups of friends earing, with a very very significant difference.
          If two cables not shielded are near enough, for sure the field from one is reaching the other one.
          Impedance measure is not the only factor. we shall abandon the old idea of an electrical current as electron traveling, (they do but vey slowly), the physical fact is a propagation of electromagnetics waves continuosly changing in a conductive material

          1. Hi Javier, you are right with your input. Of course it is the propagating field which transfers the signal in any cable not the slow motion electrons. This is tought already in early lessens in electrics and physics sciences. And different geometries and the material dependent resistance of conductors sure create different magnetic and electric fields. So far the theory which can be shown also in experiments. Looked to the Van der Hul speaker cable data the main thing melts down to the very low ohmic resistance due to very great cross section of the conductors. So this is comparable to big monster cables. Therefore it seems that these cables work well. Beside silver, copper is the best conductor. So silver plated conductors were already long time ago used for high frequency (radio, TV) applications. This because of the skin effect created from the inner magnetic field of an conductor at high frequencies which creates resistance at these frequencies, but not much at audio range. All this was measured by various developers of various companies. So, if the ohmic resistance is super low between amplifer and loudspeaker, either due to the cable itself and/or short connection, the influence of this cable will be low. Therefore active loudspeakers with minimum cable length between amp and speaker chassis is the best. Or alternatively placing the power amp direct beside the loudspeaker with short connection.

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention how cables are connected to the amplifier and the speaker. Often these connections are not properly done and there may be a joint resistance too either instantly or after a while due to corrosion. Personally I prefer so called gold plated banana plugs. But not all amplifers provide the jacks for them. These plugs are used in electrified model airplanes where huge amperes flow at relatively low voltages comparable to audio speaker voltages and where lowest resistance counts.

    1. Sven,
      Bare wire ends are the best way to connect…less electrical ‘gaps’ for the
      signal to have to ‘jump’ & you can snip off 1cm every year, when you
      clean your connections, & start with a fresh (unoxidized) end of copper.

      My interconnects are cold soldered…
      7N, PCOCC wire cold soldered to 7N, PCOCC RCA plugs; one of the
      very best connections of wire to plug.

      1. Hi, good morning, you are right. Without connectors blank wire would be best if flattened to have a big contact to the the screw in terminals. But as you state will be oxidized. Therefore some noble metal coating would help. I tried several things in the past on these connections and for me the banana plug seems to be the best just for me. This because I change sometimes the power amplifier since I restore some earlier ones. And I prepare my cables myself. For the longer path in my room behind the walls I use solid copper wires like the mains electrical installation with huge cross section. And also if appropriate I make cold pressed connection to a plug. Otherwise I use just solder, the old lead one which is not allowed in Europe anymore. But I have a good stock of it.

        1. Sven,
          The taps on the back of my DeVore’s are made of high copper content brass with a hex nut that I can torque down very tight with a spanner.
          Also, instead of flattening out the 1.5mm dia. solid core wires that I use at the ends, as you suggest, I simply loop them in a hook shape & this gives me a greater surface area connection.

          1. Sorry, I can’t say Fat Rat since we had some in the garden. Anyway, the connection what you desribe is of course also very good when tightened enough. As I said, banana for quick exchange an amplifer. Also on my workbench I have the test loudspeakers with banana plugs at the cables when I work on restoring or repairing an amplifier. Also vacuum tube amplifiers mainly for guitar and bass.

            1. ‘Taps in the garden’…ha-ha, very funny Sven 😉
              I agree that banana plugs are ideal for quick
              changing loudspeakers.
              I don’t change loudspeakers, once mine are in place,
              they’re in place permanently…until I have to move ✌

                    1. London is 10hrs behind Sydney, so it’s just gone 12:37 (lunch-time) there…you are not far away…Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart, Munchen??

                    2. Oh, I forgot. My big main speakers tall as myself and heavy will stay until they become defect or I leave the house in a coffin.

                    1. Nun, das ist weit entfernt von hier wie Sie wissen. War gelegentlich dort meist bei Business Reisen. Schöne Stadt.

  4. I was at Gordon Holt’s when Bob Fulton visited and I asked him if I could borrow some Fulton Gold cables(I was still using lamp cord) which was so thick it looked like you could jump a jet engine with it. By the way two 32 + feet(Fulton had said he discovered so resonance affects which multiples of 14 Ft plus a small amount minimized) cost what then(early 1970s) was a staggering $250 or so. He had a 32ft set in his truck and just gave them to me. I used them for years and a friend suggested using one pair for plus to both speakers and the other for minus(splitting Fulton Gold was not an easy task) and it seemed to sound better. I still have the cables but stopped using them when after decades I noticed a green color on the wires. I recall an article in an old Audio Express by Nelson Pass I believe where he measured various cables for resistance and inductance. The Fulton Golds were superb for resitance but soared in inductance starting around 10 kHz.

  5. So if we want to minimize inductance, can we use computer ribbon?
    16 strands separated into two halves — the question is what geometry is best for separating the pairs.
    (I did make one set of cables based on this but only guessed the geometry). It sounded ok.

  6. Audiophiles will never be in agreement on this subject. While I have no technical training, I have read various white papers and some research on the effects of cables. I have found Max Townshend’s research to be interesting and his ISOLDA speaker cables to sound excellent—to my ears— in my system—and have been using this speaker cable for almost two years now. NO-I haven’t had exposure to dozens of cables—honestly only a few — but for me the ISOLDAS are the real deal and are the last speaker cables I will buy.
    I’m linking Max Townshend’s research paper here: http://www.townshendaudio.com/PDF/The%20Sound%20of%20Music%20and%20Error%20in%20Your%20Speaker%20Cables.pdf
    — since it addresses the effects of separating speaker wire. I found it worthwhile reading.

  7. Audiophiles will never be in agreement on this subject. While I have no technical training, I have read various white papers and some research on the effects of cables on the sound of a loudspeaker. I have found Max Townshend’s research to be interesting and his ISOLDA speaker cables to sound excellent—to my ears— in my system—and have been using this speaker cable for almost two years now. NO-I haven’t had exposure to dozens of cables—honestly only a few — but for me the ISOLDAS are the real deal and are the last speaker cables I will buy.
    I’m linking Max Townshend’s research paper here: http://www.townshendaudio.com/PDF/The%20Sound%20of%20Music%20and%20Error%20in%20Your%20Speaker%20Cables.pdf
    — since it addresses the effects of separating speaker wire. I found it worthwhile reading.

    1. Thank you for the link. A survey I did not have seen yet. Need to read it and think about. Of course to me the impedance Z is known and is vital for connecting equipment with cables and connectors. It is right that signal reflections occur but this is basically known for high and very high frequencies. Every user of an oscilloscope knows the 50 Ohm setting at the input of it when have a 50 Ohm cable connected to it and especially measures digital signals with high rise time. The question for me is whether it is really significant for audio beyond 20 kHz.

  8. The comment at 3:40 minutes into the video is NOT correct. The inductance is NOT increased by having the two wires in a pair closer to each other.

    Minimizing the loop area, minimizes the inductance. It also maximizes the capacitance.
    Maximizing the loop area, maximizes the inductance. It also minimizes the capacitance.
    Magnetic field vs electrostatic field.

  9. Hi, I read the paper from Max Townshend mentioned above. For me some of the test seems not really the right way to do it. Just measuring only the difference between amplifier ground (or minus speaker output) and loudspeaker minus pole is to my opinion not the right way. One should simultanious measure the signal at the amplifier plus minus output and oh the other end at the loudspeaker also at both plus and minus connection. These two signals need to be compared with music or multi-tone excitation or even white noise which should be bandwidth limited to 20 kHz. Then differences could be shown. Showing the reflections in the simulation are probably true but the stimulus was a step signal which contains theoretically infinite frequencies, so higher ones than audio. Using a rectangle signal in the oscilloscope pictures has also a very high frequency content in the steps when not slewrate limited. One did the real comperative measurement with audio signals and showed it in youtube and there was no difference in the spectrum. The ISOLDAS cables seem to be good and nothing is wrong with them.

  10. I’m using Analysis-Plus Golden Reference cables because of hard physical facts. I met years ago at CES in Las Vegas by accident Mark Markel, the owner of this company. He was a physicist and in his company there was (or is) still Dr. Sung, also a hard core scientist. He explained and showed to me on his scope some (for me) “secrets” in cable geometry. Normally this engineering company works for companies like NASA, Motorola, Intel etc. On the other hand they are Musicians and Audiophiles. And they brought their knowledge into our audioworld. Why do I write this ? Because these guys know what is scientifically correct. There are good physical reasons for their hollow oval design and I don’t know any other cable which can create such a wonderful colorful musicworld like these cables. Science is the key, not philosophical marketing ideas. I love them.

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