The long tail of Zip Cord
The high end wire and cable industry is a big, thriving enterprise, but it is somewhat new. When we started PS Audio in the 1970s it did not exist. Monster Cable started in 1979, PS Audio 5 years earlier. Before we spent so much time and money worrying about the quality and construction of our connecting copper, any old RCA cable and a roll of zip cord connected music to our homes. What caused all this interest in connecting cables? I think the answer lies in the nature of what passed for speaker cables back then; Zip Cord, also known as Lamp Cord. Zip cord was pretty damned convenient and few of us gave it any thought. Two stranded lengths of copper in a clear jacket that was easily separable by pulling the two conductors apart. You bought what you needed from a roll of wire, cut it to length, split the ends, stripped the wires, and voila! Here's a picture of Zip Cord. We laugh at this most ancient hook up wire, but perhaps it's instructive to remember the first Monster Cable speaker wire was this identical construction with "better" copper and fancy connectors. My first introduction to the impact different construction would have came from a demo I attended by Mike Moffat. Moffat, now one of the owners of Schiit Audio (along with Jason Stoddard), was a technician at Absolute Audio in Santa Ana California. Mike demonstrated to Stan and I the difference between Monster zip cord and Cobra Cables in a truly blind test. Mike wouldn't even tell us what he was doing, only that we should just "trust him" and see if we heard a difference. Boy, oh boy did we hear a difference. Cobra Cable was what we refer to today as Litz wire; many fine strands of insulated wire woven at right angles to each other to reduce skin and proximity effects as well as inductance. And it was just the first of many designs still in use today. It seems to me that the common use of long parallel conductors, as you find in zip cord, was so detrimental to sound quality with many amplifier/speaker combinations, that an entire industry sprouted up to replace it. In fact, I can't think of a single other trigger I could point to that sparked such a revolution. Sometimes the things we take for granted–once questioned–spark industries to fix them.
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