Q & A
 
This section is designed to answer many common cable questions of both a general/observed and technical/specific nature. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions. Please submit additional questions via e-mail and we will promptly answer them to the best of our ability.
STRAIGHT STATEMENTS regarding specific types of cable
 
Upgrading your interconnects will offer a sonic improvement at least equal to a major component upgrade - at a fraction of the cost.
 
Upgrading your speaker cables allows your system to handle all the power and musical details the components can deliver.
 
High quality video cable allows you to minimize color bleed, distinguish shades of black or gray and increase picture depth at a small cost.
 
what BETTER CABLES can do for your system
  • ALL CABLES ARE FILTERS
    All audio cables act as complex passive filters with elements of capacitance, inductance & resistance. While they have observed sonic & electrical tendencies - cables are reactive (and can have a complimentary, neutral or derogatory effect in systems).
  • TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS NECESSITATE BETTER CABLE
    Major advancements over the past decade in audio/video equipment include digital processing, polymer speaker cabinets and better surface mount circuit design. Because of these advancements, you can hear the difference of high performance cables more than ever before in your system. Like tires for your car.....you consider tuned suspensions, reduced road resonance, wet pavement abilities,....
  • BETTER CABLES ARE LIKE CLEANING YOUR WINDOWS
    Inserting low quality cables will mask and veil sonic & visual details. Better cables are like cleaning a window or your glasses - you realize afterwards that images are clearer and sounds more precise.
  • WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM HIGHER LEVEL CABLES
    Generally speaking, moving up in the cable level provides more conductor groups for lower electromagnetic effects, increased quality of insulation for less capacitive storage and increased conductor quality (for increased and more uniform velocity of propagation). You can hear & see the improvement with better Straight Wire.
Cable is a component (not accessory) because your system won't function without it.
 
CABLE FABLES, factual answers to common cable misconceptions
 
  • THICKER IS ALWAYS BETTER
    Basic speaker wire with two parallel conductors act as opposing magnets which rolls off (cancels) part of the music signal. As the conductors get big (12Ga +), electromagnetic fields distort the closest portion of the opposing conductor (PROXIMITY EFFECT)
    Better to divide the conductors into smaller, alternating (pos,neg,pos,neg...) groups.
  • LONG CABLE DOESN'T EFFECT PERFORMANCE
    A short cable will have not just lower resistance but less reactance (inductive & capacitive) than longer cables of the same construction. Keep them short and at a standard length. Get cable long enough to access components & meet future placement needs.
  • SILVER IS BETTER THAN COPPER
    While silver offers greater theoretical conductivity than copper by about 1%, it has a different sonic signature (clearer & faster for highs - not as full for bass). Silver oxidizes differently and is usually cost prohibitive. Some cables use silver plating effectively.
  • GOLD PLATING INDICATES A CONNECTOR IS GOOD
    Gold plating is usually a very thin layer (usually over a bright nickel base) which will resist corrosion. It looks good but is frequently applied over low quality base metals. Other materials such as silver , rhodium & platinum have benefits which may not be cost or application justified for audio / video systems.
  • MUST HAVE SAME LENGTH CABLES
    The difference is not the time it takes the signal to go through the cable, but the complex reactance (filtering) that will take place largely due to resistance. Cable lengths within 25% of each other for moderate to intermediate systems are not optimal but OK. Sales people should caution customers to buy standard matching length pairs of cable in case they change rooms, move equipment or think they might trade-in or resell the cable.
  • INTERCONNECTS DON'T NEED TO BE SHIELDED
    You cannot always predict the RF and other forms of interference (EMI) found in many homes. Many high end interconnect cables without proper shielding or shield termination are hindering system performance. Most background noise and grounding problems can be eliminated with well s hielded signal & video cables. Not so critical for most speaker cables unless you are running them directly on AC power lines.
MORE CABLE FABLES
 
  • BARE SPEAKER WIRE IS BETTER THAN GOLD PINS or FANCY ENDS
    Bare copper, regardless of purity will oxidize & corrode, especially with current running through it. It is better to attach a gold plated end which will resist corrosion or cover the end with silver solder.
  • HIGH CAPACITANCE IS ALWAYS BAD
    Don't let consumers intimidate you because their engineer friend told them to get the cable with the lowest capacitance per foot (meter). It is irrelevant in most cases - only loop capacitance (total of length x cap. per foot) is of concern for passive preamps and sensitive (usually unstable) components. Some cables have relatively high capacitance (120pf/ft+) but ultra-low inductance which usually works great on tube electronics.
  • BI-WIRING ALWAYS MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE
    Many speakers today have double sets of binding posts which allow for bi-amping or bi-wiring. The audible benefits of Bi-amping - Vertical (one amp for right speaker, other for left) or Horizontal (one amp for LF, another for mids & highs) are usually clear. Bi-wiring is especially useful when the characteristic impedance varies between the high & low frequency segments of the speaker (i.e. 3 ohm & 8 ohm). It helps reduce the effects of backflow EMF which can smear HF details. If the characteristic impedance is close- the benefits of bi-wiring might not be as clearly audible. It is better in most systems to connect with a single run of a high quality cable than to Bi-wire with two lower quality cables.
  • DIRECTIONALITY IS NOT IMPORTANT
    Based upon the design & shield termination of the cable - directionality can matter. Most cable manufacturers put directionality arrows on cables based upon research & listening evaluations. Some models of cable are symmetrical and directionality is not critical. You should know if the shield is connected at one end of the cable with the negative conductors or if it is "floating".
  • BREAKING IN CABLES MAKES LITTLE DIFFERENCE
    Just as amplifiers and speakers will sound better after 30-50 hours of use, cables may have a one-time capacitive effect when the insulation is first exposed to current. This is especially true of cable with "Litz" conductors or individually coated strands. The insulation will stabilize electrically - midrange will have greater depth & warmth. The cable will sound smoother - less analytical in many cases.
TECHNICAL TENDENCIES
 
Making good cables is similar to good cooking. You can give the cooking analogy:
 
MATERIALS = INGREDIENTS
DESIGN = RECIPE
PROCESS = COOKING
 
MATERIALS (Each ingredient hat its own sonic flavor and tendency)
 
CONDUCTORS
COPPER - good bass, solid midrange, potential variance in HF based upon strand diameter
BETTER COPPER- better bass, clear midrange, HF less restricted if strands have less surface corrosion
COATED COPPER - minimizes strand - strand (electrostatic) effects
HF - clear if coating not too thick or poor dielectric
SILVER PLATED COPPER - minimizes copper oxidation & adds slight HF speed if coating is thick (2%+)
COATED SILVER/COPPER - with thick silver (10%+) very stable with excellent sonic tendencies.
SOLID SILVER - high velocity of propagation- HF can be too dominant bass is tight, clean and can be lean.
 
INSULATIONS
POLYETHYLENE - common insulator with fair mids and highs foamed versions are more accurate, bass is OK.
POLYPROPYLENE - tight bass, accurate midrange and sharp highscan perform better (less absorbtion) if foamed.
HARD PTFE - strong bass, relaxed mids, HF not restricted.
FEP and skived types may pick up mechanical noise.
FOAM HYBRID TPR - full bass, lush mids, clean HF excellent mid bass- non resonant, spongy.
SOFT FOAM PTFE - accurate bass, lifelike mids and highs great insulation - must be careful in manufacturing not to crush or performance will vary.

DESIGNS
(these recipes have been refined and perfected over past 15 years)
 
SYMMETRICAL COAX - very accurate, low inductance design provides very uniform electromagnetic control. Tight not sloppy, detailed not bright. We have been one of the few companies perfecting this design for over 15 years!
USED FOR SPEAKER CABLE, INTERCONNECT & DIGITAL
 
STAR QUAD - low noise, smooth highs, distinct vocals, full and controlled bass can be configured in balanced, unbalanced and noise dumping terminations. We optimize for balanced resistance and controlled impedance.
INTERCONNECT
 
HELICAL ARRAY - similar design used by many companies - we optimize it. Choose strand size for best current penetration and accurate twist (little air space). Insulation and thickness is based on simultaneously optimizing 4 parameters. Non conductive cores allow for good mechanical stability and control of music.
SPEAKER CABLE, INTERCONNECT
 
DUAL SYMMETRICAL COAX - Utilizes twin coaxs for great shielding and versatility in termination options. Delivers music signals with all nuances intact - even over long runs. Enchanting presentation with true tonality and depth. One piece of cable with this design can carry two channels ( not suggested for premium performance but a consideration when space is limited).
USED FOR SPEAKER CABLE , INTERCONNECT

PROCESSES
 
WE TAKE A HANDS-ON APPROACH IN 'COOKING' OUR CABLES TO ENSURE PERFORMANCE THAT APPEALS TO ALL PALLETTES.
 
CONDUCTOR BRAIDING - special machines at slow speeds for low deviation
 
EXTRUSIONS - temperature, moisture and cooling are highly controlled
 
TAPE WRAPPING - critically monitored by technicians & tension analyzers
 
LESS REWINDING THAN OTHER CABLE MAKERS - unique machines we have built to reduce handling which tends to deform or alter structure.

MECHANICAL ISSUES
 
We perform serious research & development
 
DIELECTRIC & JACKET COMPLIANCE - careful analysis & control
 
FILLER MATERIALS - various ones for low dielectric & specific needs
 
CONDUCTOR DIAMETER / RESONANCE TENDENCY
 
NATURAL CABLE RADIUS / STRESS - wall thickness, fiber braid layers and real life application factors are carefully considered.
 

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