Yes, The Quality Of Your Cables Does Matter

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by DonnyThompson, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Addressed to mixing and mastering,
    My hybrid systems longest cable is 8ft. The core of my system is so quiet I can hardly tell its on. I use power conditioning APS battery backups on the converters which (in my case) is essential in isolating everything in the house to final mix. If I don't use the APS, particularly on the capture DAW, my converters will occasionally click. Is that cabling or what?

    As I built this system, each piece I improve has now created one of the most stable and incredibly quiet, pristine sounding systems I've had in 4 decades. I hear what my gear and power source sounds like.
    This topic reminds me of a 10M conversation.
    There are pro audio dealers, mixing and mastering engineers who claim a superclock is essential and it actually improves your sound. Is it improving or patching?
    I believe if a hybrid system is clocked properly and excellent, short insulated cable is part of your chain, you will never need a superclock and other over the top things some think matter.
    Personally I think we will hear when noise occurs or dial a curve in a gain change closer to the source or sweet spot when we use the best of everything we can, cable included.
    Cable matters just as much as tuning a guitar matters to me. Gear matters but maybe not all of what we do is noticed like an out of tune guitar. Accumulative comes to mind.

    Anyway, I'm mixing on Aurotones lately and they don't go past 12k, yet I use silver cable. Go figure.
    Less distraction and attention to detail matters.
     
  2. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

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    Yes, guitar cables are different from line level signal wires because with passive pickups, higher capacitance can result in a real loss at high frequencies.

    --Ethan
     
  3. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    On another forum I use, somebody asked about sending audio down 500m of cable, and the general opinion was fine - still better than a radio link if the source and destination impedance is correct.
     
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    What about data cables and optical cables ect. I've read articles testing different data thruputs and they all were similar.

    Cables are slowly becomes less and less a part of music. Imaging no powers cables, extensions cords, all that? Soon enough.
     
  5. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Cables have NEVER been part of music - in the same way the brand of printer ink that prints the score out isn't.

    Cables are an electrical component, in the same way all your other components carry your sound. They either do their job transparently, or they don't. The design simply introduces limits - some characteristics we can hear, practically all can be measured. If you use cable that passes the audio without audibly changing it, I'm happy. This means that for certain jobs, the cable needs to be short. For other jobs, almost any old bit of metal will work.

    Data cables again are designed for a specific purpose. We're now trying to stuff SDI-HD video down cables and connectors that can't manage them, and it fails. Data at audio bit rates isn't that tough as a medium to transport. The lighting brigade constantly bang on about 110 Ohm data cable for their DMX lighting distribution, but loads of people find mic cables are reliable enough. Others use their data cables to transport analog audio in the hope it sounds better - which it doesn't.

    If you visit many pro studios, you'll find extensive patching systems all over the building - the broadcasters do it big time - and very few use clever and special cables, just normal decent quality ones. In these installations, the audio signals may travel many hundreds of yards, or just across a room.

    Rubbish cable is rubbish for so many reasons. Good cable is good for the job it was designed for (and of course may be rubbish doing something it wasn't designed for)
     
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  6. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

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    I agree with all of that, however:

    Remove the word "practically" and you nailed it. Everything that affects fidelity can be measured down to levels far softer than can ever be heard.

    --Ethan
     
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  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    The cable from Thomann in Germany turned up. Purple is great. It lays flat nicely, coils properly, is easy to solder, and the stranded shielding is decent strength. price wise - the Euro is close to the dollar - so it's $49 for 100m (300'). Outer jacket is quite soft.

    The only negative point is that the brand, model and description is in white small text - but repeated every 6" or so - it's small enough not to be that visible, but a bit annoying.
     
  8. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

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    Microphone Cables - An Intelligent Discussion

    Here is some food for thought.It's a link to Klause Heynes' REP forum discussing audible differences in cabling.
    Some comments made may be nonsense to some, but one has to consider the
    integrity of the source.
     
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I suspect the fact that the text was written by somebody who believes that cables make a big differences colours the evidence. Is the real difference down to poor cables - those having characteristics detrimental to the sound. There are so many poor cables, maybe using inferior performing electrical materials, or physical manufacture, that can also be used as interconnects that are inappropriate = thinking along the capacitance characteristics making them unsuitable for the particular job at hand. The good cables cannot be compared properly, because the time delay swapping them out colours perception. Using comparators, as we did with hi-fi in the 70s, is now frowned on because of the extra circuit path, so there really is no way to do proper evaluative reviews.

    Electrical reviews that measure and test often seem to make no real sense, with just resistance and capacitance to do their stuff.

    When the BBC start to wire their studio centres with clever cable, I will follow suit - but until that day I shall continue to avoid good sounding cables - simply choosing to use bad cable. If it isn't bad, then it's good.

    If I plug my Fender Tele into the amp with a thin cable, it usually sounds dull. If I use ANY of my thicker cables, then all is well, and the do NOT, to my ears sound different. The thin ones do - and it's simply high impedance and capacitance working against me. However, I'd not want to use that cable anyway, as it also looks like standing on it would kill it!
     
  10. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

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    I have a pair of 50 ft. Pro link Monster mic cables for my overheads, that's the last time I spent my hard earned cash on boutique cable. Most of my studio is wired with foil shielded belden industrial signal cable that I got for free from a few electrician friends. This stuff is designed to obliterate any stray EM, ES, and RF interference.
    Maybe I haven't listened hard enough and given this subject it's due, but I believe that a mic cable either causes a problem due to poor consruction, and soldering of connectors or it doesn't. I have never presumed to hear congestion or midrange grit that I would attribute to a cable. I think connectors are more likely the culprit when assessing cabling. Every time a non hard wired , pressure connection is made, there is a slight loss in signal amplitude , that is gained back by the the pressure applied to the connection. I have however noticed that the black shieth applied around the hot wire insulator in some balanced cables is conductive, and needs to be trimmed back, away from any solder joints.
     
  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I've never seen anyone use conductive plastic sheathing - this seems totally pointless as the entire point of using heat shrink or sleeving is to prevent shorts? A few people use Hellermann sleeving still, but it's getting less common. As far as I'm aware there isn't a heat shrink conductive sleeve available, is there?

    For what it's worth, properly designed connectors don't have problems with electrical performance in the female housing part. Our RF cousins have VERY tight specs for connectors and the female part is not an issue. At audio frequencies it can be discounted - apart from in some very cheap connectors where the contact method is a spring steel wiper.

    I have no idea whatsoever congestion sounds like? Same with mid-range grit. That one I think I can imagine, but cable has pretty simple characteristics. Like a simple guitar tone control, the capacitance of the cable can take off the top end, but for a cable to become capable of being a proper filter, inductance is needed, and this component is normally missing. People mangle the physics to bestow magical capabilities on cable, but a connector that has strong enough construction to not crackle, is going to have low enough resistance to be transparent. To design a cable to act like a filter, offering no attenuation to some frequencies yet reducing others is certainly possible, but until we start to approach lengths that are considerable, we can't use the wavelength to assist us, so the performance of the 'filter' is a bit pathetic, needing test gear to measure, not ears.

    Look at telephone circuits - very long lengths, that can be amplified and re-equalised to maintain performance. The notion of hearing length effects on a typical interconnect between local equipment is just silly. I took use a simple pass/fail system. Open or short circuits are it.
     
  12. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

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    I'm not about to read 36 pages, but $100 says whatever "tests" they ran that concluded audible difference between wires was not done properly or even blind. The notion of audible differences between competent wires is so easy to know, and so easy to settle, I'm amazed that it's been going on for 50 years or longer!

    --Ethan
     
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  13. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

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    I read pages 1-6, by the time i got to the fellow claiming to hear differences in signals depending on the orientation of the cabling in relation to the Cardinal directions, and attributing it to the earths magnetics fields, i got a chuckle and lost interest.
    The point of this article is that this is Klaue Heyne, a widely known and respected mic guru earning his reputation modding and restoring German mic classics of impeccable design. He got his reputation for being able to hear ,as well as measure subtlies in different mic circuits. If he says he hears differences in mic cables, I believe him. I just can't hear it.
    The conductive shieth I'm taking about is a thin layer over the clear insulator on the signal wire of the cheaper, more readily available Horizon bulk balanced mic cable, If you don't trim it back, and away from the solder joint, you will get static when applying phantom power.
     
  14. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

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    I guess one point I'ld like to make is that perfect specs and measurement don't always identify the best sounding piece of gear, which is subjective of course.
    I know we are not talking about complex circuit design, or tube verses transistor, but perhaps, in what seems to be a simple and straight forward topic, could contain more variables than meets the eye.
    I've heard techs argue that well designed OP amp circuit in an amplifier is superior in every way to tubes because they spec out better, and that anyone who says tubes are better is just experience hifi VooDoo nonsense.
    That being said, I would never use a tube amp as amplification for studio monitoring because of the coloration, noise, consistentcy, reliability, lack of affordability and non linear nature, stereo tube power amp.
    Klause won't use Prolink Monster cable to do his measurements because he says it measurably hypes high frequencies.
     
  15. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I'm a self-confessed sceptic. I realise that in the hi-fi arena, people claim they can hear these things, and people believe them, even though they may not be able to hear it themselves. I choose to disregard it in favour of my ears and my understanding of science. If Klause thinks a cable can INCREASE higher frequencies, then he's discovered perpetual motion. Nothing can increase a signal in a passive cable, to do so needs energy from an external source. As I said, a cable could be mad to have a filtering effect.

    We did a subject similar the other week, and it was interesting - the key feature of it was that sometimes, products change things for the better in terms of listening, by introducing a technical detrimental effect. Tubes without any doubt whatsoever do have much more distortion than solid state devices - but to many ears, the type of distortion is perceived as pleasant. Hence tube microphones and processors/pre-amps.

    I understand the technology, but I'm one who prefers the solid state sound and not the tube version - just me.

    I don't understand at all the conductive sheath? Why on earth would somebody do this and spend money on it? Have you a source for expandable conductive sleeving? I cannot find any from UK sources? As for the 48V making this sheath cause static, I'm a bit doubtful. Could it be just coincidence?

    I came across this person and his microphone work and am also sceptical on this too - If people find his mods an improvement, that's fine, but since doing the mod takes time, a degree of memory and expectation is involved.

    I know what I like!
     
  16. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

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    No, I wired a 16 channel snake with Belden Foil shielded 32 conductor cable. The wire is stiff, so I opted to solder a more plyable cable on the in/male end for the pigtail xlr connection.This Horizon Balanced cable has a thin black sheath around the clear nylon insulator of the + signal wire. There were 5 or 6 connections that had issues after my soldering job was complete, there were no cold joints or stray strands of copper, but I noticed the ones that worked well had no black sheath touching the solder joint. I then stripped back the black sheath, and Voila, not more noise on any channels.
    This is a standard Horizon balanced cable. There is no conductive sheath product, it's built into the cable. I think it's purpose may be to help isolate the signal wire along with the braided copper shield, but this makes little sense to me, as CMR dictates the + - need equal shielding to properly cancel out interference. Unless that wire was intended to be the - signal wire, then it's connection to ground wouldn't have that effect. Still doesn't make sense to me though.
     
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    That is astonishing.

    @Audiofreek Hey Rick
    We should do a test sometime. I have 100 ft runs of silver cable and a good amount silver accusound mic / both TRS and instrument cable. Next time you are tracking, I'll bring it over and lets do a test?
     
  18. Audiofreek

    Audiofreek Active Member

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    Yeah, sounds good. I tried to find a picture of this Horizon cable on the net, but was unsuccessful. I'll have to take a picture of it, so that it's understood.
     
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    The only cable I would speculate to be better than what I am using, is VOVOX. I tried to get some of that here but the NA Rep refused to step up to the plate on that years back.:notworthy:
    Big K , an ME that used to hang here, swore VOVOX was noticeably better. It would be fun to hear how he still feels about it. I think one cable can run into the hundreds of dollars.
    .
    I also have Mogami and Audix, which is made in China so it would be interesting to just connect to a source and see what the heck this is all about.
    Maybe we can shed some light on this once and for all. FWIW, My kids say they hear a difference between cable. I'm thinking I did to, but, I grew up in the 70's lol.
     
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Rick, I wonder if its this http://www.rapcohorizon.com/ Dead link though, maybe out of business now?https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-rapcohorizon-company
     

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