Debunking the Myth of Speaker Cable Resonance

Discussion in 'A/V Interconnects, Cables & Power Conditioning' started by admin, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    Some exotic cable vendors and esoteric audio magazines claim that speaker cables exhibit electrical and/or mechanical resonance at audio frequencies and that the RLC nature of the cable drastically changes at these frequencies causing the alleged cable resonance. They often cry bloody murder and seek out solutions to fix this alleged problem to preserve the pristine audio and save their golden ears from such atrocious distortion. I believe this claim was fabricated either because of a lack of understanding of basic principles of electronics, or an attempt to initiate a false scare tactic to rationalize how an exotic cable vendor can justify slapping an RLC network on the cable and charge consumers high asking prices. Some even pervert this fallacy one step further by suggesting it is necessary to isolate your speaker cables from mechanical vibrations. Before you run out and shop for a solution to stop your cables from resonating either electrically or mechanically, it may be best to examine if this is a real or made up problem to concern yourself with.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "Debunking the Myth of Speaker Cable Resonance" here. Read the article.
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  2. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    The main article image shows up small but here is the expanded image that was taken at CEDIA a few years back at the Transparent Cable booth.
    Transparent2.jpg
    gene,
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  3. Mark Kovach Audiophyte

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  4. 96cobra10101 Senior Audioholic

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    Gene, PM sent
  5. jinjuku Moderator

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    That was a great read.. Welcome to AH and hope you become a regular poster. Thx.
  6. Speedskater Audioholic

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    The 'Mark Kovach' interview gets interesting on page 4, much more engineering and less marketing than most interviews.
  7. Ampdog Audioholic

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    Thanks Gene.

    I often refer to your articles on our local audio site "AVforums". At your peril! :D But I have received no countering posts yet. (They either agree or they don't know!)
  8. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

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    One of the best articles on cables , great job Gene... We need more of this type of reporting/test to include "USB" cables...
    cpp,
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  9. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    Really? are they linked up over there in their threads? thanks.
    gene,
  10. jneutron Senior Audioholic

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    What is linked up? As in, links to this forum?

    jn
  11. Darkwing_duck Audioholic

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    That's weird. Either they are trying to lure in installers to up-sell their cables because they believe in their product OR they know they are in a lucrative business with a lucrative product and that means cold hard cash can be made......hmmm....but they wouldn't do the latter...they just wouldn't.....
  12. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

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    The goal is to sell and make money and with audio cables be it, speakers, power, HDMI, interconnects or USB there is no data to support the claims, just marketing adds in magazines, smoke & mirrors and pretty products supported by reviewers that state , I heard a difference when I added XYZ cable which cost $500.00 to my system and then you have people who claim after spending $100.00 of dollars on a (1m) USB cable that they hear a noticeable difference. This alone drives sells using the oldest sells tool in the book, word of mouth.
    cpp,
  13. Darkwing_duck Audioholic

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    Haha hey cpp, I was being really sarcastic....really really sarcastic. I know these vendors are only in it to make money through up-selling. It's practically their biggest source of income in a home Theater Reno....
  14. 3db Audioholic Overlord

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    Thanks for the article Gene. Articles like this goes a very long way for re-establishing credibility into the audio industry. I also know that audiophiles around teh world unite and cry foul. It sucks to be them.
    3db,
  15. Rich Davis Enthusiast

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    Here is what MIGHT be happening

    which the tests have not proven. Let's say a cable mfg (any) found certain frequencies present some resonance. Now, testing their theory are one frequency that doesn't resonate doesn't mean that the cable mfg didn't find SOME frequencies that do. One would have to test ALL frequencies using the same test equipment and testing procedures that the cable mfg is using in order to see what they are talking about.

    I'm not saying they are right on this, but I'm know how some mfg make claims and how some people interpret them and then try to conjure up a test to invalidate.

    I've read plenty of articles where they said they did a blind test on cables and a coat hanger and that there was no difference. Well, my first reaction would to believe it, but I wasn't at that specific test and discussed how the test was set up to conduct the test. Sometimes, these tests are flawed to begin with and setup in a fashion where other factors (like a switch box and other cables) used that might negate anything that one cable does or doesn't do. I've heard expensive cables on a variety of systems where i heard no difference, and then I've heard some where there was a subtle difference, to some that there was a HUGE difference. It wasn't specific as to the cost of the cable in most cases or the cost the equipment. Things happen where one product might work better than another. Believe me, in some ways, I don't want to hear that a more expensive cable sounds better, but if I take one home, make sure I follow the mfg breaking in (if specified), I can then make up my own mind as to what I hear or don't hear. Sometimes, the differences I hear more clearly on some recordings than others, sometimes it's with certain equipment.

    I bought a cable from Transparent recently and had a GREAT experience. Yes, I'm very aware of running cables as short as possible, but sometimes that can't be helped due to where you have your equipment, etc. Sometimes, you have to have long cable runs. Especially in large home theater systems. It can't be done any other way in a lot of cases.

    Bottom line, if you are going to prove someone's claims to be false. My suggestion is FIRST find out what the specific claim is, then find out what test equipment and testing methodology and see what results the mfg saw and then see if there is a way to use that same test equipment and testing methodology on other cables to see how they might differ.

    If you are using different test equipment, different testing methodology then you might be able to prove your point to some people, but not really disprove their point. Personally, I hate this squabbling and sometimes slanderous accusations against mfg unless you can go through THEIR testing procedures and have THEIR engineer in the same room doing these tests your self to find out WHY they might disagree with YOUR way of doing it.

    A long time ago, I had bought my first high end CD transport (at the time) connecting it to a $1200 external DAC and needed a high speed coax cable. Not too many were on the market and I first bought a Monster cable that cost $100. IT worked. It was well constructed from my point of view and wasn't some cheap crap that most Japanese Sony, pioneer, etc transports come with. YOu know the type of cable I'm talking about. Now, I thought everything was just fine and walked into the dealer that I buy my equipment from and they had just received a couple of new (at the time) MIT Coax cables. The one's with those boxes in them. They game me a couple of demo cables. One was, at the time, their bottom end model that costs $150 and the Reference cable which was a LOT more money. They didn't say anything other than, "check em out". Now, at the time, I thought it was ridiculous to spend tons of money on cables, but paying a little extra for a well constructed cable makes sense just in terms of being more durable and maybe less likely to break. So, that being said, I connected the lower priced MIT coax cable and there is something that I'm VERY sensitive to and that is high end frequency distortion. I can't listen to music for long periods of time if there is harshness in the upper frequencies. Even when I go to concerts, the only speaker systems that I've been able to stand for long periods of time were Meyer, anyway, so I'm VERY sensitive to it. Well, I have to admit I heard less harshness on the $150 MIT coax digital cable than the $100 Monster. I then plugged in the MIT Reference cable and noticed the harshness was gone, but it had better low end extension. Now, I have taken college courses in analog and digital circuit design many years ago. I wouldn't call myself an EE or an expert in any way, but I'm not stupid about the subject either.

    I've read the MIT white papers and some of their information on their patents and I've talked to people that worked their or have worked their about what the big deal is, and they explained it to me where it makes sense. I heard a difference in their cables. Did I end up buying the more expensive cable? NO. It was beyond my budget, but I did end up buying the entry level cable, and have enjoyed it ever since. I bought other MIT cables (not necessarily their most expensive) and have had good success with them. I also checked out a Transparent cable (their cheapest interconnects) and the difference (improvement) it made was HUGE. I couldn't believe it. It allowed me to listen to my system for longer periods of time and now I'm enjoying some older recordings that I didn't really listen to that much because my system didn't have that same listening experience. How much is the cable? I don't know, I couldn't tell you.

    What I've learned is that sometimes the guilty party might be the people trying to disprove the snake oil salesmen with another type of snake oil by not sitting down with the mfg and going through THEIR tests and discussing it in an open and fair manner so they can respond.

    Because you might be surprised one of these days with these articles that one of these mfg might show up one day with a slander lawsuit suing you for everything you have and shutting you down for good. Some of these mfg don't want to resort to that, but some might just get so upset with your claims, that they might.

    To me, I tell EVERYONE. Test the products in question on your own system and see for yourself if there is a difference (good or bad). Testing a sine wave (which doesn't exist in music) isn't always a good test in the first place. When someone says there are frequencies that resonate. It might be CERTAIN frequencies. How do I know? When you play a musical instrument, some frequencies resonate differently than others because of how the instrument is made. You play a certain note on a guitar/violin, etc. and when you hit that one certain note, the instrument for whatever reason becomes alive. I've heard and felt that phenomenon, so maybe that's what is going on is CERTAIN notes are resonating and not ALL of them. So you might want to find out what frequencies are doing this rather than randomly picking one out trying to prove that they don't resonate. make sense?
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  16. Rich Davis Enthusiast

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    Yeah, but they also want repeat customers. If they sell a product and the customer doesn't hear any difference, they might not be able to keep that customer. Now, I also look at INDUSTRY experts like someone like Bob Ludwig, or Skywalker Sound. Bob Ludwig is one of the top names in the mastering industry that is KNOWN for being a TOP mastering engineer. He doesn't always use cheap crap to his work. The cheesiest product I've ever known him to use are Yamaha NS-10 speakers, but that's because he gets calls to do work for commercial pop music where he has to listen to his mastering jobs on both high end systems (where he uses a pair of Eggleston Ivy speakers), connected to a bunch of Cello amps, using nothing but the top end Transparent Cable. But when he plugs in the NS-10's, he's using the Transparent cables as well. The rest of his equipment is either custom made or some of the most expensive mastering equipment known on the planet. He is known for his mastering and he's seen as an expert and his work is his reputation. If he doesn't do a good job, then he doesn't get more work. Same goes with Skywalker Sound, only they are using MIT Cables in their big sound stage production facility where they record film scores, etc. and they record artists like Kronus quartet. So, when THEY say they hear a difference (positive) with MIT Cables, I'm going to believe THEM over some internet magazine trying to conjure up BS trying to disprove them. These people listen to nice systems in pristine environments on a regular basis, it's their job and they will spend whatever it takes to get an incremental improvement. IN the audio industry, just like most industries, to get something a little better costs a lot more money. You want a Mercedes or Porsche to go a second faster in the 0-60, you might have to spend tens of thousands of dollars more just to shave another 1/2 a second. In the audio industry, these companies might have to get a bunch of expensive test equipment, spend years in R&D to produce a new patent and it costs sometimes millions just to get a slight improvement and then when they sell their top end product, since they are only selling a small handful, they have to charge a lot to recoup their expenses and that's how it is. Like it or. Sometimes, they can bring the costs down on lesser priced equipment which they do, but it's still a niche market, it's still a rich person's hobby unless you do it for a living and care about the final product.

    Actually, some of these high end DAC players that are doing as much as 32/384, high rez DSD can't even use the cheaper cables. They simply don't work as they aren't fast enough, or they break easily. So they have to go through a bunch of cables to figure out which one's work and sometimes it's only specific brands that they feel work best. Talk to Light Harmonic on their DAC. They came out with their own cable that ripping expensive, but I'm told others will work, but they apparantly have their own cable and they don't sell many of them, hence the price tag. But when you are spending $10 or $20K on a USB DAC, those type of people spend $1000 like you spend $.25 on a gum ball. It doesn't matter to people that have TONS of money and quite frankly, they don't care what you say, because THEY have the bigger bank account with the nice house and ultra nice equipment while the rest of us wallow in $15 cables. Sorry, this jealousy crap I'm not buying into it. IF they hear a difference or they want to spend the money, then let em, they are going to do it anyway. Just like people buy Bose systems. If I'm looking for good audio, cables are a part of that and I will typically spend upwards of 20% of the total system price will be towards the cables I'm using in that system, if I can spend less, I will, but I will buy good constructed products and I stay away from the cheap cables, because first off, they end up breaking much quicker if nothing else.
  17. Rich Davis Enthusiast

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    This didn't prove a thing to me. It just proved one test, but I have to see what the other tests are and one what equipment. This was NOT done in what I would think is a proper manner. First, I would state the SPECIFIC claim, then post the mfg's test equipment list, testing methodology and findings FIRST just to have a starting point, and then whatever these YoYo's come up with, I would like the mfg to be able to respond and have a DIALOG about it rather than what appears to be is another response that has far more snake oil than the original claim. The only thing I hear when I read these arguments from people trying to slam cable mfg are a bunch of jealous individuals that can't afford decent cables making up even worse snake oil in the process. Sorry but I sense BS.
  18. ImcLoud Audioholic Ninja

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    I always say, "if it makes you happy buy it" the guy that said "money can't buy happiness" was confused... A guy with $7 million liquid assets spends $50K on a set of speakers $40K on amps and preamp, then $5000 on cables, what is wrong with that, I'm not bothered or jealous of him, I think its great and would love to sit down and have a listen... Do the cables make the system sound better? maybe not, BUT if I walked into a house and the guy had a $100K system with 12 ga Pyle copper wire roped to his Sonus speakers I would be surprised...

    Take away all the claims of "better" sound and leave the aesthetics, warranty, and ruggedness on the table, a good cable that you like is worth every penny... I make my own cables, I install banana ends, cable pants, techflex, solder the ends, shrink tube them all together nice and neat, spend hours doing it at my took box measuring to get them the same exact length, feeding the cable through the tech flex making sure not to twist it. A pair of 6ft cables will cost me double vs just buying the cable, cutting it to length and stripping the ends, not to mention the time to get them done, But I still do it, because they look good, I enjoy building them and picking the colors to go with my system... It is that simple, I can afford any system I want, but I buy systems that cost under $3000, I own a half dozen of them, lol but its how I choose to enjoy my "audiophile" hobby... If others choose to enjoy is with extravagant cables that may or may not make an audible difference then so be it, who cares? Whats the difference between fancy cables and the finish on a pair of Sonus Aidas, I seen a pair in Boston, and they were walnut I believe , absolutely stunning, the rep {I think he was a rep, I had no intention on buying so didn't want to waste his time} told me that finish cost the company more than other companies spend on their entire enclosure... So that DEFINITELY adds NOTHING to the sound, and that is OK, why? I have seen some really impressive looking cables, just like the veneer... They should cost more and they do... Im fine with that..
  19. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    The manufacturer does NO such tests. They have no degreed engineers on staff. They are a marketing company selling exotic looking cables that hired creative writers to sell a story. I asked them to show data, produce tests, and all I got in return was the sound of crickets. Their stories aren't based in any plausible or provable science, or even science fiction for that matter.
    gene,
  20. Alex2507 Audioholic Overlord

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