My good friend Bill Lowe, who runs Audioquest, has said from the day he started that company that all you can expect from wire is to do no damage. He’s correct and obviously gets it.
In the last few day’s posts we have been exploring cables, both audio and power and trying to set the record straight about their inability to add anything to the system’s performance. It may seem like a minor point, but I find many people believing the opposite and that can lead to unfulfilled expectations at a minimum and poor system choices at a maximum..
Cables are filters (a filter can only subtract, not add). The best cables filter as little as possible, but in the end there’s nothing yet built that’s perfect. What that means is no cable has ever been made that doesn’t damage the audio signal or restrict the AC power feed at least a little.
So if a cable is a filter, then the challenge to selecting the right cable for your system is choosing the right filter and being very clear that’s what you are doing. It is folly to think of these filters as additive – they are not.
So if my system is sounding a bit bright, I need first to determine where it is bright and then choose the appropriate filter to tame that brightness down. Perhaps my amp is a powerful beast that’s perfect for my loudspeaker load, but it leans a little on the bright side. Adding a cable either to the amp’s input or output that restricts the area of brightness gives me a better balance to the system.
I know it’s considered heresy to use cables as filters, but as my momma used to say, “if the shoe fits, wear it”.
Tomorrow: The pure and the practical