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Speaker cable - Harbeth's recommendations to avoid "exotoc cable"

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  • #16
    Some of the best cables are the cheapest

    Cabling does make a difference, sometimes quite large, but what is best is up to the listener's judgement. Different is not always better. Also, price doesn't have a lot to do with the sound as some of the best cables are inexpensive.

    Personally, I would steer clear of cables with boxes on as these are expensive and the purpose is deliberately kept unclear.

    Comment


    • #17
      Do not become fixated on cables with Harbeths

      I would think that it is to say, use the (already) very good cables that we own and use with current gear. But, do not be(come) fixated on choosing some particular *fancy designer* name cables, with hopes or expectations to greatly improving on already great sound and equipment (speakers) that are not dependent on overpriced cables.

      New cables will not give you the ground level to the top level change as you may experience with some *OTHER fancy speakers.

      Comment


      • #18
        Cables/Harbeth interface is a non-issue by good design

        Originally posted by Mike Mount View Post
        ... But, do not be(come) fixated on choosing some particular *fancy designer* name cables, with hopes or expectations to greatly improving on already great sound ...
        Good advice. It is conceivable that some other-brand speaker crossovers and/or drive units have strange electrical characteristics perhaps bordering on electrical instability and those speakers will be very much more sensitive to the type of cables used. But as I have mentioned many times before, we just do not want to spend our days answering telephone, email and letters from anxious would-be customers worried about compatibility of Harbeth speakers with this or that cable. So I am acutely aware that at the design stage of virtually guaranteeing that our speakers will work with any credible amplifier performing to manufacturer's spec. and with any cable I can imagine.

        Result: zero anxious calls and we can get on with doing something constructive in the working day because this is a non-issue.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #19
          DIY speaker cable - simple, cost effective, satisfying

          Happy New Year to all !! My first post on the first day ...

          I discovered it's rewarding to make the cables yourself. I used a few metres of Canare 4S8 Star Quad Cable. It's cheap, only 3 a metre. To make it look nice i used heat shrinking tubing, a cable sleeve and 4 banana plugs . 2 x 3 metre of solid speakercable didn't cost me more than 45. If you forget the fancy stuff (tubing, sleeve and banana plugs) it costs you less than 20.
          There are cable manufactures who are using rebranded Canare cable. They just put a nice logo on the sleeve and sell it for 100 a metre.

          I promised myself i will never ever pay a huge amount of money for cables or interconnects. Neutrik plugs, speaker/ microphone cable and some basic soldering skills will do. If there is a difference in sound it's not price related. The money i 'saved' is spent on a few nice box sets of Stravinsky (Boulez), Webern (Boulez), Bach (Hewitt) and Scarlatti (Ross).

          {Moderator's comment: attaboy!! Welcome!

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          • #20
            Save money from cables buy music!

            I'm a little bit late on commenting on this but you are absolutely right! Don't spend fortunes on cables but buy some nice music instead and enjoy!

            Comment


            • #21
              Amplifier stability and speaker cable - a cautionary tale

              Production dept. asked me to provide them with a new small power amplifier to be used on one of the test rigs. Only a few watts were needed, just enough to sweep-test every drive unit listening for buzzes by ear. The previous B&K oscillator (now faulty awaiting repair) had a speaker drive output stage, but the newer B&K doesn't have an inbuilt power amp.

              As It happens, I'd half assembled into a case a commercial "DIY" power amp module comprising of heatsink, power supply and circuit supplied in one neat resin-potted housing. It's a design that's been available for years and sold to the disco/pa market to drive long speaker lines.

              Assembly complete (wiring mains, phono input socket and psu transfomer) and hooking up to an oscillator and speaker and all seemed well. Until I turned the volume up more at which point there was a tell-tall audible distorted character to the pure tone: the character of circuit instability. I clipped the 'scope across the speaker feed to see, as expected, that one half of every sine wave had a burst high-frequency supersonic noise, which whilst inaudible itself, manifest as distortion in the audio band. Reduce the audio input and stability returned.

              Disconnecting the speaker so the amp was not actually generating power into a load, and again, stability. The solution was a 'zobel network' comprising a small resistor and capacitor in series soldered directly across the output terminals. Cost about GBP 0.10 (ten pence) and commonly fitted to amplifiers to partially-cancel the inductive/capacitive reactive load of a speaker cable and/or loudspeaker itself. But not this one.

              So the message from this is .... we want to assume that audio power-amplifiers are well designed and stable into the sort of loads that typical cables + speakers present, such as this combination. But that may be over optimistic on our part. Unless we have test equipment we cannot look for instability and if we identify it by ear, the damage may have already been done. There may indeed be latent instability which is only triggered on signal or transient peaks, depending upon drive level as in this case. The more exotic the speaker cable and/or the loudspeaker load the more we tempt instability. That's why I design Harbeth speakers to present as benign a load as possible to the amp and advise you to use simple, standard cable that looks like simple standard cable.

              If anyone is interested I'll take a photo off the 'scope to show the distorted waveform before the zobel was fitted.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #22
                Amp stability

                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                Production dept. asked me to provide them with a new small power amplifier to be used on one of the test rigs. Only a few watts were needed, just enough to sweep-test every drive unit listening for buzzes by ear. The previous B&K oscillator (now faulty awaiting repair) had a speaker drive output stage, but the newer B&K doesn't have an inbuilt power amp.

                As It happens, I'd half assembled into a case a commercial "DIY" power amp module comprising of heatsink, power supply and circuit supplied in one neat resin-potted housing. It's a design that's been available for years and sold to the disco/pa market to drive long speaker lines.

                Assembly complete (wiring mains, phono input socket and psu transfomer) and hooking up to an oscillator and speaker and all seemed well. Until I turned the volume up more at which point there was a tell-tall audible distorted character to the pure tone: the character of circuit instability. I clipped the 'scope across the speaker feed to see, as expected, that one half of every sine wave had a burst high-frequency supersonic noise, which whilst inaudible itself, manifest as distortion in the audio band. Reduce the audio input and stability returned.

                Disconnecting the speaker so the amp was not actually generating power into a load, and again, stability. The solution was a 'zobel network' comprising a small resistor and capacitor in series soldered directly across the output terminals. Cost about GBP 0.10 (ten pence) and commonly fitted to amplifiers to partially-cancel the inductive/capacitive reactive load of a speaker cable and/or loudspeaker itself. But not this one.

                So the message from this is .... we want to assume that audio power-amplifiers are well designed and stable into the sort of loads that typical cables + speakers present, such as this combination. But that may be over optimistic on our part. Unless we have test equipment we cannot look for instability and if we identify it by ear, the damage may have already been done. There may indeed be latent instability which is only triggered on signal or transient peaks, depending upon drive level as in this case. The more exotic the speaker cable and/or the loudspeaker load the more we tempt instability. That's why I design Harbeth speakers to present as benign a load as possible to the amp and advise you to use simple, standard cable that looks like simple standard cable.

                If anyone is interested I'll take a photo off the 'scope to show the distorted waveform before the zobel was fitted.
                Thanks Allan for the suggestion,i use a high strand direct copper cable for my Harbeth P3ESR's have never tried anything else.
                But for my interconnects I use Morrow Audio MA-1's http://www.audiosold.com/ma1interconnect.htm

                Should I try something more simple then these,I know the cable looks very slim,would this be doing justice to my setup or should I just buy some basic copper interconnects from the supermarket.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Naim no Zobel?

                  Hmm...I use a Naim amplifier which doesn"t has a Zobel network claiming this results in a better sound. Mr Shaw's experiment has proven the opposite as I understand it.

                  {Moderator's comment: is that really true? That will certainly mean that the type of cable and speaker connected to it will entirely define the technical performance, and probably audio performance too. Can't understand why they designed like that unless to sell their own cable and own speakers i.e. a marketing tactic.}

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Naim with own cables

                    Don"t think so...Although NAIM does advice to use their own Speakercable and connectors they are so cheap that I guess there's hardly any profit.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Naim: stable into normal cable

                      Very early Naim amps had to use the appropriate cable in a run of 3.5 mtr minimum to provide the correct amount of inductance to keep the amp stable. In practice, this wasn't a problem as any 'normal' cable will supply the recommended characteristics.

                      All Naim amps made during the past 15 years are completely stable into any cable unless it's very highly capacitive but there are very few such on the market. In practice, you don't need to give it any thought.

                      Naim's own speaker cable is very good and reasonably priced, making it a good choice to partner Naim amps or any other for that matter.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Standard cables are fine...

                        Greetings from Chicago! I agree that speaker cable should be DECENT, not expensive. I have 25' (8M) runs to my Super HL5s with quad 14 gauge Belden cable (I think I paid $75US). Anyway, by merging the - and + wires the result is 11 AWG. The sound is terrific. DON'T waste your money on fancy speaker wire. Regards, Steve

                        {Moderator`s comment: you should explain carefully what you mean by `merging the wires` in case readers accidentally short out their amp}

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Agreed, can you elaborate?

                          Originally posted by QChicago View Post
                          Greetings from Chicago! I agree that speaker cable should be DECENT, not expensive. I have 25' (8M) runs to my Super HL5s with quad 14 gauge Belden cable (I think I paid $75US). Anyway, by merging the - and + wires the result is 11 AWG. The sound is terrific. DON'T waste your money on fancy speaker wire. Regards, Steve

                          {Moderator`s comment: you should explain carefully what you mean by `merging the wires` in case readers accidentally short out their amp}

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Explaining about using quad core wire as standard pair

                            By "merging" the wires what I mean is this: The "quad" (Canare) type wire consists of four separately insulated wires (two + and two -). I do not "bi-wire," as it's useless to do so IMO.

                            Accordingly, I twist together the two + and connect them to the corresponding + terminal of the speaker; and I do likewise with the two - wires and connect them to the corresponding - terminal.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Simple is best

                              Haligonian: I'm not sure what to elaborate about here.

                              Basically, I believe that expensive speaker cables are not necessary to achieve the best sound and that money is much better spent on other parts of our audio systems (such as components) that DO make a SQ difference. I also believe that bi-wiring does nothing to improve SQ. I follow the Harbeth suggestions: DECENT (not expensive) cabling of suitable gauge and single wiring of the speakers.

                              At the suggestion of the Moderator, I have explained what I meant by "merging" the wires in a previous post. HTH

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Keep more $ for music not accessories

                                Appreciate QChigaco for sharing your experience. The good sound of Harbeth really no need exotic accessories....I am too still using my more than 10 yrs old MIT terminator2 speakers cable happily. I can keep my $ for more music..
                                "Bath with Music"

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