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Thread: Best connection to speakers ?

  1. #1
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    Default Best connection to speakers ?

    I am expecting to get my new Harbeth C7 within ten days, meanwhile I would like to order a pair of cables. The connection to the amplifier is via banana plugs but what kind of connection to the loudspeakers do you recommend: banana plug, spades or bare wire? Thanks

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    Default Speaker connection? It Depends...

    Quote Originally Posted by ummaya View Post
    I am expecting to get my new Harbeth C7 within ten days, meanwhile I would like to order a pair of cables. The connection to the amplifier is via banana plugs but what kind of connection to the loudspeakers do you recommend: banana plug, spades or bare wire? Thanks
    You can find support for any of those three connection methods online! FWIW I think bananas are best if you regularly need to move speakers around and unplug them frequently (if you are a reveiwer/dealer/tweaker!), bare wire gives the least number of junctions between speaker cable and binding post but can be impractical with certain cables. Spades are neither a direct connection nor easily unplugged. Bananas are the easiest, most practical way...and for sound quality? Pass.

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    Using banana plugs is by far the most convenient way to go. The contact has to be firm (not hard, not loose).
    Do not worry about sound quality, you won't hear any difference. If you are, after all, concerned about that, bare wire is in theory the best way.

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    Concur. I use bananas all the way for ease of use.
    Ben from UK. Harbeth P3ESR owner.

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    So it will be bananas
    Thanks

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    An other question about speaker cables.

    According the theory, the shorter the speaker cable the better it is (shorter wire = smaller resistance, capacitance and inductance). But what is the shortest length that makes an audible degradation? For example is there an audible sound degradation between a 2.5 meters cable and a 3 meters cable or is such a difference of length too small to make any difference ?

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    Default About speacer cables

    If you feel like reading about speaker cables:

    http://www.qed.co.uk/genreprt.pdf

    http://www.procosound.com/download/w...r%20Cables.pdf

    and about cables and some other things:

    http://www.theaudiocritic.com/downloads/article_1.pdf

    There is no reason worrying about that.

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    You won't hear any difference between 2.5 and 3 mtrs. You might (might) hear 3 v 10 mtrs but don't lose any sleep worrying about it.

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    Takis, thank you for the links


    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    don't lose any sleep
    I may lose some once I get the C7

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    I had a curious phone conversation this morning!

    I phoned the importer of the QED in Jerusalem (the only place where you can buy QED cable in Israel) and said that I want to order two pieces of 2.5 meter each of QED Classic 79 strands cable. The dealer asked me if I am aware that this cable is QED's most basic cable and asked about my speakers. When I said Harbeth C7 he sounded almost in a state of chock! "Are you serious, you are really going to connect your Harbeth with the QED 79 strands ?". He said that for such speakers even the QED Original is still too basic and that I should at least pick the Silver Anniversary.

    It looks like according to them there is a relationship between the price of your speakers and the price of your speaker cables. By the way do you have any experience with Blue Jeans 10-gauge 5T00UP or the 12-gauge 5000UE cables? They are even cheaper than the QED. Thanks

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    I don't see any relationship between the price of your speakers and the cable to be used but IMO, you should be using something better than 79 strand. You don't need to spend a fortune, something like Chord Rumour or Odyssey will do very nicely and not break the bank.

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    Hi Ummaya, i am using something even cheaper than QED 79 strand but my SHL-5 sounds wonderful nonetheless.

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    Shalom Ummaya

    I also am in Israel with HP5 and have the cheapest speaker cables I could find coming out of my Super HL5. When I purchaseds the HL5 2 years back Igal the local dealer stuck the bare wire endings into my speaker posts and they remain there until today. You have a great pair of speakers - don't let yourself be ripped of spending money on cables that will not improve your sound but may degrade it (if they have some kind of filter in them to justify the cost). Try living with your speakers for a year or two with plain cables and you will be very happy I promise you!

    Steve

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    Hello Steve,

    I sent you a PM

    Ummaya

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    When I first heard my M-30's; it was at an in-home dealer's establishment. He had them connected to reference level components and good quality (Audience AU24) cables. They have never sounded so good. I realized that I would not be able to duplicate a $30K front end, $20 amplification, and a professionally engineered listening room with my modest electronics, cables, and listening space. At the time, I was a complete cable skeptic. Everything I read here reinforced this point of view. How could there be any advantage in wiring you speakers with anything better than the internal wiring? A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, right? About this time, I started looking around in magazines and online. The first time I saw an ad. for a cryogenically treated power cord, I literally laughed! I am an electrician, and rather empirical and objective by nature. I started to read reviews on these products and could not believe what I was seeing; here were, supposedly, intelligent and knowledgeable audiophiles discussing the "sound" of a power cord. How could one ascribe a particular sound to a power cable? The A/C that reaches the components goes through miles and miles of aluminum transmission wire, through (several) transformers, switches, breakers, and possibly a hundred or more feet of Romex. How in the world is changing the final meter or two with a (presumeably) high quality cord going to effect the sound of the component?

    I contacted the dealer who sold me the Harbeths; he seemed like a pretty intelligent fellow. 'What's all this nonsense about deep freeze power cords?'. I was hoping to hear that he didn't buy into this nonsense, and that he would tell me that such things were for affluent audiophiles with more dollars than sense. Quite the opposite, he said that, while he could not fully explain the phenomenon, power cables do improve sound quality. He dispelled my "a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link" theory with the following example: he showed me that exchanging a high quality IC cable for a "stock" cable improved the sound. Even if it wasn't the last link in the chain (pre out to amplifier), the sound was audibly better. His purpose was not to sell me a set of IC's, and no order was placed at that time, but my thinking had changed. As far as power cords and line conditioners, I still had my doubts. Again, it was actual experience that demonstrated to me that a good quality power cable can make a big difference. I don't know if the difference is completely objective, and therefore measurable, or subjective and, perhaps, audible but not measurable. There my be more to it than DC resistance, velocity of propogation, and LRC measurments.

    If we agree, as most do, that the speakers are the most crucial link in the music reproduction chain, could we possibly agree that; since the speaker cables carry the finished product (amplified music), that they are the most important cable in the system? I tend to think so, and I've actually got 2/3 the price of my M-30's tied up in speaker cables. Whether or not you think this is justifiable, I can promise you that if you substituted 79 strand speaker wire for my Transparent Music Link Ultras, I would notice it 2 minutes into an album from 2 rooms away. Yes, these are an exaple of the reviled cables with the "magic boxes", and I've often considered the absurdity of having them connected to Harbeths; knowing the general consensus of both the company and it's customers. I've also got some HiFi Tuning fuses, HRS damping plates, and Herbie's Tenderfeet / Isocups. All of these products were sold with a money back guarantee, and I would have sent them back if I didn't hear a difference (blind and "double blind" A/B comparisions).

    Some of you may be thinking, 'oh, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell this guy'. My point is that I started out as a complete skeptic. I don't go for every snake oil scheme that comes along, but I've seen and heard some things that have toned down my skepticism. If I recall correctly, Mr. Shaw dosen't say that 79 strand speaker wire is the best possible connection for Harbeths, but rather, that it is a good reference; a good place to start your comparisons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diminish View Post
    ... and I would have sent them back if I didn't hear a difference (blind and "double blind" A/B comparisions).
    a difference doesnt mean its better...or a correct representation.

    The largest variation in quality of music and sound presentation through your speakers is probably due to the recording and/ or mastering process. The cable, and electronics debate imo seems almost superfluous. If you want your hifi to sound the best, look for good quality recordings and skilfully mastered ones.

    If our lexicon on what makes a relatively and discernibly better recording can be brought to the cable (or electronic) story in a similarly palpable manner during comparison eg. "more open, clear, detailed without the harshness , impactful, well balanced, exciting without being offensive, good separation of instruments, realistic voices" etc., it would be something interesting if not, a waste of effort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diminish View Post
    If I recall correctly, Mr. Shaw...say that 79 strand speaker wire ...it is a good reference; a good place to start your comparisons.
    For personal and professional reasons I could not received my new C7 last week as previewed and this delay gave me some more time to decide which speaker cables to buy. I am amazed by the amount of time and energy I have spent during the last few weeks around these cables: I asked friends, asked professionals, read audio forum threads about speaker cables, re-read again Peter Aczel " Ten Biggest Lies in Audio" and most what Ethan Winer has to say on the subject.

    To know better about things that are not in my field of expertise, specially about things that I am asked to spend a lot of cash on, I have to rely on others; "experts", "professionals" , "people with experience" and about the speaker cables it seems that the "experts" have different and sometime opposite views. Since where I have searched, I have not found even one negative review of the Qed 79, I decided to listen to what Alan Shaw says (anything available that is reasonably thick will work...simple, un-cool standard flex is all you need) and yesterday I finally placed a $60 order for two Qed 79 strand cables + banana connectors. I have no doubt that at least they are good quality decent cables. If they are a good place to start or for me, a good place to stay I may find sometime in the future.

    About the speaker cables issue I am more an agnostic than an atheist. I still give some room for doubts: maybe some day I may find that my system sounds different ("different" not better or worst) with different cables. From my own experience I know that there are certain things that to be able to discern and appreciate differences you must have a lot of experience. Very clear and evident differences for the experienced experts may be elusive or too subtle for the untrained amateurs. In my "wild" period when I was a teen I played the guitar in a Rock/Blues band for about three years; back then I could discern very easily and without any doubt between the sound of a Gibson, a Gretsch, a Rickenbacker or a Fender electric guitar. I knew (and I mean "knew" and not "guessed") if the Fender guitar I was hearing was a Fender Stratocaster or a Fender Telecaster. These details, as discernible as an elephant in the middle of my living room for me and and any guitarist or other band players, were inaudible for the neophyte or most non professional Rock music listeners I knew and know today; what they hear are only 'electric guitars'. A good friend of mine, an experienced professional classical music pianist and orchestra director is able to discern without any problem between the sound of a Steinway , a Yamaha or a Bosendorfer piano. To my untrained ears they all sound like...pianos.

    That's why I leave some room for doubts about speaker cables and why I now think that several hours or even several weeks of speaker cables blind test may still not be a valuable proof. May be a much longer period of listening is needed to discern an audible difference between different cables? Anyway, a piece of music surely sounds far much better when it come out from my Harbeths than from my small $50 radio transistor but the emotions and thrill I get from this music is equal in both cases. The "Music" before the gear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ummaya View Post
    ...That's why I leave some room for doubts about speaker cables and why I now think that several hours or even several weeks of speaker cables blind test may still not be a valuable proof.
    The strange thing to me is this ..... using an electron microscope we can just about see the crystal structure that forms a long continuous cable. The junctions between the crystal 'lands' are conceptually similar to those between the junctions at the working heart of every transistor. From the microphone's internal amplifier, the mixing desk, the laser pick-up in your CD player and all the transistors in your amplifier means the signal has passed through thousands - millions? -of transistor junctions before it is even delivered to your speaker cable at the outside of your power amplifier. The signal will then proceed along the cable to the speaker through billions upon billions more cystal boundries, then into the speaker, through more to the crossover, through the crossover and yet more cable to the drive units and finally billions more in the coppr wire of the drive unit's voice coils.

    Why pick on the speaker cable as the villain of the piece? Why not pick on some other crystals somewhere along the line? As the signal must pass along the circuit from the mic, why pick the fatest cable with the least resistance as the culprit for degrading the sound quality? Surely the chain is only as strong as the weakest link? Why not identify one transistor somewhere in the mixing console as the culprit for limiting sound quality? Since the recording process has far more complexity and variable than the replay end at home, isn't it more likely that the sonic weak link lies far outside of our control in the studio? Isn't it rather bizarre that we can somehow ignore that inconvenient speculation and concentrate all of our thinking and anxiety on the last few metres of cable? Except, of course, it isn't the final link. A 5" driver's voice coil wire is about 10m long with a diameter less than 0.2mm - by far the thinnest, most fragile cable in the entire chain, and probably longer than the cables from your amp to speaker boxes!

    Let's be realistic about this one please!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Lightbulb Eureka moment re: cables?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    A 5" driver's voice coil wire is about 10m long with a diameter less than 0.2mm - by far the thinnest, most fragile cable in the entire chain, and probably longer than the cables from your amp to speaker boxes!

    Let's be realistic about this one please!
    I never knew that Alan, that's pretty amazing and makes me laugh when you consider some of the massive thick speaker cables you see at hi-fi shows. At Heathrow last year there was one room that had cables that looked as if they'd been made out of the tenticles of a giant squid. As thick as my forearm! The more things like this I read on the HUG, the more irrational this cable business becomes.

    Another thing that bugs me (correct me if I'm somehow wrong here) is the "shortest signal path" mantra. I've often read of amplifiers made with a lot of effort gone into having the shortest possible signal path. Sometimes it's quoted - in millimetres! But is it not true that all that becomes irrelevant if you have to use 3m cables instead of 1.5m (eg.)? Also, whatever the length of the amplifiers signal path, is it not irrelevant next to the two 1 metre interconnects and 3 metre speaker cables? If I'm wrong and shortest signal path is paramount then I conclude the dream system would be one box with CD drive and integrated amplifier in a single chassis (tongue firmly in cheek).

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    "using an electron microscope we can just about see the crystal structure that forms a long continuous cable. The junctions between the crystal 'lands' are conceptually similar to those between the junctions at the working heart of every transistor"
    "The signal will then proceed along the cable to the speaker through billions upon billions more cystal boundries, then into the speaker, through more to the crossover, through the crossover and yet more cable to the drive units and finally billions more in the coppr wire of the drive unit's voice coils."
    I was under the impression that PCOCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) copper is "Single Crystal" copper with no such bourdries. The distance between boundries can sometimes be longer than 700 feet meaning that many cables can be made without crystal boundries. This is why PCOCC is sometimes 25x the price of standard OFC which often has 1500 boundries in a single foot. If Mr. Shaw attributes sonic degradation to these boundries, wouldn't a cable free of them have the potential to "sound" better?

    @ kittycat "a difference doesnt mean its better...or a correct representation" - Yes, granted, perhaps I should have stated that what I heard was an improvement. I'm, quite obviously, unwilling to pay money to make things sound worse. I just happened to have 4 spools of 500' ea. of 18 AWG copper THHN wire on my truck. As an experiment, I kept the wire wound on the spools and connected them in the system as speaker cables with a total circuit length of 1000' feet (I think that's close to 330 meters). The sound was pretty terrible; although not as bad as I would have guessed. Music lost all of its dimensionality; the soundstage fell apart completely and there seemed to be a lag in the upper frequencies. I gather 2 conclusions from this experiment: #1) It is possible to change the sound without making an improvement, and #2) Speaker cables do make a difference (although this would be a rather exaggerated example).
    I agree with you completely that the quality of the recording is the single biggest limiting factor in music reproduction. Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot we can do to change that aside from what you proposed (buying "good quality" "skilfully mastered" recordings).

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