A cable question...


Well-known member
OK, so several people who are self confessed cable naysayers have suggested using multi-strand Oxygen Free Copper speaker cables and that this is all anyone needs to get the best out of their kit.

However, I'd like to ask those people a question. Given that cables don't make any difference (not necessarily my view), if somebody has Chord Carnival Silverscreen (as I do) which is 15AWG OFC cable, where would the point be in switching to a different multistrand OFC cable?

I'm not trying to start an argument here, just get an answer to what I think is an important question.


Out of the frying pan and into the fire...


I personally think that your system probably sounds fantastic as it is. So there would be no logical reason to change cable.

For what it's worth I have made a conscious decision to only ever use 322 strand OFC cable. Now that I have made that decision I never have to concern myself with that part of my system. The same goes for using Black and red cables.

If I ever come into enough cash to own my dream system, involving some fantastic valve kit. They will still only be connected by 322 strand speaker cable and Black and red phono connections.


I'm not sure how to answer your question without inviting an argument, but the point would be in the thickness of the wire.

Depending on the length of your wire and the impedance of your speakers, there might be a valid point changing to 13AWG or even 12. Then again, according to a certain Mr. Russell 15AWG would be sufficient for cable runs up to 30 feet, even into 4Ohm speakers.


15AWG isn't massively thick TBH, you'd get less resistance with 12AWG, but here are some thoughts:

Less resistance isn't necessarily better, sometime the bass needs a bit less damping and with closed boxes (infinite baffle) a little cable resistance can make the bass a little freer. In fact this is one reason why some tube amps have much better bass - their output is already at a 4-8 ohm impedance, as opposed to the solid state's near zero.

The reason for using multi-strand cable is to make the cable flexible. Skin effect at audio is _bunk_, note the solid copper centre core of UHF TV aerial cable (>200MHz) if you want proof of that.

Length of cable is proportional to resistance, so cable thickness is meaningless on its own, the only figure that makes sense is the total resistance, added to that of the amp and speaker.

Shielding is interesting but for it to be any use it has to be grounded and ideally the speaker should be shielded too. As shielding a speaker is never done (the crossover is always in the open for RF) you should instead use a clip-on ferrite core at the amplifier end to stop RFI.

Note that stopping RFI is generally only required for class B transistor amps, as these are the ones using high feedback levels.

So to recap - you should probably use ferrite cores, and you can achieve all permutations of cable characteristics for peanuts by playing with resistance, which can be easily and cheaply done by trying 5A, 10A and 15A mains flex and car audio cables, or reasonably prices audio cables. Cable is cable, physics can't see how much you paid.

Effectively the most you can hope out of a cable is to stop RFI and have a resistance compatible with your amp and speakers. Neither will make much difference, and there is never any reason to pay real money for bizarre cables because these are the only effects you will ever get, and you can buy your own wire at source.

Finally, mains cables will never make any difference at all, but of you are really worried just stick a ferrite clamp at the ampflier end of the cable. Forget all about the daft distribution boxes and conditioners too - if your amp's PSU is that poor you should be upgrading that, not the national grid. Remember that cable ends up as yards of tiny thin ECW wire in the transformer, a meter of £2.5k SN special cable isn't going to change that.

the record spot

Matthew, I'm not a cable naysayer - you can't argue with the simple truth that without 'em, separates aren't happening all that much. What I rail against to some extent are the claims that go in tandem with them from some manufacturers and magazines. My head was turned by a set of van den hul The Name interconnects. The review said one thing, the truth for me turned out to be less of the experience I'd expected.

I moved on since that day. Tried different copper wires, tried Nordost Blue Heavens which are silver based and the only ones I tried which were different, because, I think, of the silver content. Too bright, never again.

Since then, I went round the houses as you've probably gathered. For you, you make a choice based on the information you have to hand. I went with the likes of Roger Russel's site because it just told me what a cable does, or what it can do. Hence why, when I discovered the Digitalis Direct site I bought the 14AWG / 322 strand speaker cable I use just now. It replaced the Audioquest Type IV, not because it was massively better, if truth be told, it was because it cost me a fiver, sounded about the same and was easier to place at home.

Interconnects are the same. I tried out, on a whim, some RCA phono cables from a computer shop in Edinburgh a couple of years ago. They were £8. The music sounded the same using them as it did with whatever the heck I used at the time. Since then, I've had Monster Interlink's, Audioquest Copperhead's, DNM Reson Bullets and currently, Atlas Navigator. And the rest...!

We make our choices as consumers and dependant on what we need at any given time, are swayed by a variety of sales techniques. That goes across the board not just for cables obviously enough.

Reading your post, I suppose the question that sprang up in my mind was what is it you expect? It's percentages for me - what makes the biggest difference? Components or shifting your speakers around. By far and away the biggest differences are there. But cables? Where? Get someone to point out precisely where in the music the differences are heard, and if they can't do that, what is it about the piece they're playing you is different because of X cable from Y cable. And how do they describe that difference and where does it come in the music, or is it about the "air"...whatever. I gave up with it all. It's a good idea to bone up a little on the speaker cable properties though, but I just went with Russell's suggestions in the end. They work well and are inexpensive.

Don't get too hung up on it all. It's a hobby, but just pick and choose the bits of ti that work for you - there's no right or wrong in this when you're handing your money over, excepting that if you like what you hear, that's good enough. In time you might want to make a change, otherwise, just enjoy the music. If ever a hobby got so hung up on itself though, this one's it.


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Jul 20, 2007
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Globs said:
15AWG isn't massively thick TBH, you'd get less resistance with 12AWG, but here are some thoughts: etc,etc,etc,etc,etc

Globs, I love ya. Welcome to the forum. I've been reading your posts over the last week or so and I think they've been great. I can tell you actually know what you're talking about. You seem to have a massive knowledge and you put your points across clearly and without any form of condescension (snobbery in certain quarters is the only flaw with this forum).

Hope you hang around for a while, mate.