Old gramps with a 2-channel system, looking for advice...

J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
Okay, so I'm not THAT old (47), but I didn't see a dedicated sub-forum for traditional stereo systems, so I thought I'd lead with the chuckle.

I recently bought a new place here in central Florida, and my loving wife and I sparked up a discussion while we were waiting to close on this place about what I wanted to do for audio in our living room. The shape of the room meant surround wasn't even a consideration, and besides, I'm just not that into surround configurations.

I, of course, brought up my "bucket list" - a pair of Klipschorns connected to high-power class A tube amplification. The room, however, was not going to support such a system, because there did not exist a single corner where a Klipschorn could be properly coupled to the walls. So I mentioned the Belle Klipsch which are the next best thing in terms of fully horn-loaded speakers that also happen to look more like fine furniture than ugly speakers.

Lo and behold, she sleuthed out someone selling a pair a couple hours away, and I wrangled him down to $2500 for a perfectly pristine pair that he bought new in the 80's when he was in the USAF. Guy was nice enough to give me the Marantz surround receiver and the "Monster cables" he was using with them. It was comical how he kept insisting that they were the "right cables", even as I examined them and noticed they were thoroughly green inside the insulation. Whatever. I bought them without even listening to them - visual inspection was enough, I knew they worked... Even better, they also matched up beautifully with the furniture she picked out for the space.

Fast forward a month, and after a lot of research and some budgetary decisions, I have a pair of Quicksilver Horn Monos to go with them, and a Denon HEOS Link serving double duty as a DAC and a preamp. I have yet to plug these amps in, I've been using the Denon just as a DAC in front of a cheap Sony stereo unit I had laying around, because I need to build some shelving to hold the blocks above the speakers, since those are the best available spots for the tubes to get ventilation.

So I'm in a parallel effort right now, making acoustic treatment decisions and interconnect decisions. Most of the treatment issues in this room center around sheer volume of reflective surfaces - glass sliders, tile floor, etc. I'm blessed, to an extent, in that it is not a square (or even rectangular) room, and it's going to get less square once we reno the kitchen and open up a huge window on the back wall. So I'm less concerned about bass nulls, though I do plan on investing in a spectrum analyzer software package to tune it as much as possible, but right now I'm doing the bulk work. Area rug helped. So did heavy fabric furniture. Still needs more reflection work, though. I found a company that makes acoustic panels upon which they will imprint custom artwork of your choice, so I've got the wife deciding what Monet paintings she wants on the two walls that most need some absorption. ;)

Regarding interconnects, understand, I am agnostic about this stuff. If you can show me the science and the math behind something, I'm on board. But if you sit there and tell me all this marketing-speak about phase-correcting this and time-smearing that and, god forbid, you start talking about cables needing burn-in, and you can't show your work to prove it, I'm out. Show me the math. Show me the science. If I can't read the results on a spectrum analyzer, I'm not spending a grand on your marketing gobbledy-gook to connect my speakers to my amp.

But, I do have a little conundrum on my hands, that being that I traded in one problem for a different one when I signed up for monoblocks sitting right near the speakers as opposed to an integrated amp sitting halfway between them - instead of 2m of speaker wire and 6 inches of RCA cable, I now have 12 inches of speaker wire and 2m of RCA cables, and I'm a little concerned about the R/L/C math dealing with that much, much lower current signal. And I have no idea what the best choice is for said RCA run, because no one publishes R/L/C data for their damn RCA cables. Just marketing gobbledy-gook.

It shouldn't be a big deal to pick out RCA cables, yet here I am. Let's talk about it.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
If you spent a grand on speaker cables we're more likely to just kick you out of the "club". Let alone interconnects. Sounds like you're overthinking it a lot. Aim at 75 ohm rca cables if you want some sort of a standard. For longer runs shielding is a good thing, but 2m isn't particularly long. I use anything that simply works without making funky noises. I either make my own, or buy Monoprice, Mediabridge or even Amazon Basics for the most part these days. Have some other stuff from the past, including the ubiquitous Monster, some "hi-end" Radio Shack, what came with my gear, etc. Want something a little fancier maybe BlueJeansCable.com
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
Want something a little fancier maybe BlueJeansCable.com
I'm actually looking to BJC for the speaker connects, because they do the cold-weld thing, and since I need the funky spades to connect to the Belles in the back, might as well spend a couple extra bucks and have the pros put proper connectors on there for me.

Sounds like you're overthinking it a lot.
Yeah, well, a week at Audiogon will do that to ya. ;)
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Audiogon is not a good place for sanity. I have never purchased a pre-made speaker cable myself, always just bought good stock and applied my own connectors as needed. There's not much to a good speaker cable outside of gauge and length for the impedance....
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
Audiogon is not a good place for sanity. I have never purchased a pre-made speaker cable myself, always just bought good stock and applied my own connectors as needed. There's not much to a good speaker cable outside of gauge and length for the impedance....
Well, I mean, I've crunched numbers regarding resistance, inductance, and capacitance, which is what led me to at least contemplate what needed to happen on the longer path with the lower-current signal. But you're right. Math and science are meaningless to most people over there. It's like Qanon for audio fans.
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
I'm good following a wire table like this http://roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm#wiretable

ps Now if you want particular numbers for LCR then that's perhaps a different discussion.
Well, the calculators are out there and easy to find for R. Example: https://www.cirris.com/learning-center/calculators/133-wire-resistance-calculator-table

It gets a bit sketchy on C and L because there's more in play than just gauge and length, though both those things play a role, and L can contribute to R, so it does matter, to an extent. Couple of hundredths of extra ohms shouldn't matter *that* much, but if it's measurable, it's at least worth considering IMO.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Well, the calculators are out there and easy to find for R. Example: https://www.cirris.com/learning-center/calculators/133-wire-resistance-calculator-table

It gets a bit sketchy on C and L because there's more in play than just gauge and length, though both those things play a role, and L can contribute to R, so it does matter, to an extent. Couple of hundredths of extra ohms shouldn't matter *that* much, but if it's measurable, it's at least worth considering IMO.
In audibility terms, what are you referring to?
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
In audible terms, what are you referring to?
Wire resistance, capacitance, and inductance, and how it affects the signal. Granted, capacitance in short runs is a virtual non-issue, but inductance can be a sneaky problem.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Wire resistance, capacitance, and inductance, and how it affects the signal. Granted, capacitance in short runs is a virtual non-issue, but inductance can be a sneaky problem.
That doesn't answer the question. What specifically are you trying to accomplish by aiming at particular parameters? Unique to your setup?
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
That doesn't answer the question. What specifically are you trying to accomplish by aiming at particular parameters? Unique to your setup?
Again, I'm an agnostic as far as cabling is concerned. I know that wire has certain deleterious effects on the final output at the speaker, and I know that everyone makes wire that addresses some issues but not others, or sacrifices some for the sake of others.

The only thing unique about this system is it is by far the most money I've ever invested in my life on my audio hobby. Prior to this, the biggest ticket home audio item I've ever bought was a pair of JBL S38's I scored at work (at Best Buy, back in 2000 when they still sold real speakers) for $300. So I'm thinking about everything. I'm not going out of my way to spend money just to spend money, but I'm thinking about everything, making sure that I'm making the best decisions in every aspect of the system. I'm checking off the big boxes first - right amplification, right front end (still not sure the Denon is going to be the long-term solution as a preamp, but definitely not going to be in a hurry to replace it as a DAC), right room treatments, right power solutions (already invested in a TrippLite ISO250), and at least a cursory look at right interconnects. Wire is (and should, frankly) be low on the priority scale, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't think about it. At least a little.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Choosing good cable is one thing, fantasizing about its importance from marketing of certain charlatans....meh.

ps For the deleterious effects you mean what particularly? The loss as the table I posted earlier might help with?
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
Choosing good cable is one thing, fantasizing about its importance from marketing of certain charlatans....meh.
I don't know that I'd call it "fantasizing". I don't believe in nonsense like skin effect or dielectric absorption or any of that poop. Just thinking. That's all.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I don't know that I'd call it "fantasizing". I don't believe in nonsense like skin effect or dielectric absorption or any of that poop. Just thinking. That's all.
I also amended my comment somewhat and still curious about what you propose particular spec will yield in audibility....
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
I also amended my comment somewhat and still curious about what you propose particular spec will yield in audibility....
Well, I'm working with very high-sensitivity (104db) speakers with a fairly low-power (by modern standards) 25wpc tube amp. On the speaker wire side of the house, I'm really not especially worried about resistance changes, even the inductance-related changes that scale with frequency, because it's literally a foot of wire. Not enough to matter, as long as it's well-constructed and makes good contact at both ends. But the interconnect between the amp and the preamp, I worry about the low voltage signal and resistance changes having more impact on that signal.

It's probably misplaced worry. Hell, the fixed out of the Denon is 10kohms - so 0.5 ohms probably matters even less than it does on the speaker side of the equation. But I still feel the need to think this stuff out and not make dumb mistakes.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
Yeah, well, a week at Audiogon will do that to ya. ;)
Oh god, stop seeking advice from that place! Cables and interconnects do not have magic powers or affect the quality of your system AT ALL. All you need are pure copper and the proper gauge for the lengths. Fancy cables are a scam and have been debunked many, many times here. Focus on speakers, source and placement. In that order.

Audiogon. SMH
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
I'm actually looking to BJC for the speaker connects, because they do the cold-weld thing, and since I need the funky spades to connect to the Belles in the back, might as well spend a couple extra bucks and have the pros put proper connectors on there for me.



Yeah, well, a week at Audiogon will do that to ya. ;)
I'm not sure I would hang my hat on cold welding- it's not perfect, either-

"One source of difficulty is that cold welding does not exclude relative motion between the surfaces that are to be joined. This allows the broadly defined notions of galling, fretting, sticking, stiction and adhesion to overlap in some instances. For example, it is possible for a joint to be the result of both cold (or "vacuum") welding and galling (or fretting or impact). Galling and cold welding, therefore, are not mutually exclusive."- Wiki
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Again, I'm an agnostic as far as cabling is concerned. I know that wire has certain deleterious effects on the final output at the speaker, and I know that everyone makes wire that addresses some issues but not others, or sacrifices some for the sake of others.

I'm checking off the big boxes first - right amplification, right front end (still not sure the Denon is going to be the long-term solution as a preamp, but definitely not going to be in a hurry to replace it as a DAC), right room treatments, right power solutions (already invested in a TrippLite ISO250), and at least a cursory look at right interconnects. Wire is (and should, frankly) be low on the priority scale, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't think about it. At least a little.
If you really want to be 'agnostic' about cabling, buy something and use it, without thinking about or comparing it with anything else. As a custom integrator, I have sometimes had to deal with the questions about cabling and at times, I provide all of it or I may take over a house where someone had installed with Munster Cable. In one place, the jacket is about 1/2" diameter, but it has two pairs of wires that are different guages "because low and high frequencies travel at different speeds". Bullcrap. For a 35 foot run, nobody will ever hear the difference and the other part of this scam is in the fact that one pair is 14ga while the other is 16ga. That stuff was probably over $3/foot in the '90s and while that price might seem quaint now, it's pretty high for something that makes no difference. Cable with batteries and proprietary circuits in little black boxes? GMAB!

A spectrum analyzer is far too course of a measuring device to find flaws in cables. You need to look at the pure signal on a scope and compare it to the source- the only change should be voltage but determining whether the complex waves are being changed is more important and extremely difficult.

Don't just haul off and buy acoustical treatments without analyzing the room- that's like playing darts while blindfolded, using your non-dominant hand after spinning around for a few minutes. Choosing treatments before analysis is a good way to fail. It can be calculated, but that's not easy and the response will change as soon as another person (or more) enter the room.

I would advise listening to the system with inexpensive analog cables before buying anything more costly- I have used many brands and as long as I can't hear faults, I don't worry about them. I used a 6' set of IXOS cables with XLR ends and will NEVER make that mistake again. Unbranded ends, three braided wires (one black, one white and one green) with a translucent braided nylon (maybe some other plastic) sheath and they sounded no different from my 25' long Audio Technica microphone cables. I have used generic, Planet Waves (which I use in my own system), Tributaries, Vanco, Binary and others- the only ones that actually sounded bad were a set of cheap bulk cables with molded ends, from one of the local distributors- I had used them for my HiFi VCR and when I connected them to my first DVD player, I was so disappointed that I considered returning it because, in my mind, cables didn't make a difference. Well, they didn't until I connected it to the cables that I had used for my CD player- night and day. Never expected that, so I returned all of the bulk cables because I couldn't sell them with a clear conscience. These were analog, though- I haven't heard a difference in S/PDIF (digital) applications.

Another reason I recommend listening before making any changes- you may like the sound without doing anything. Sometimes, good sound is the result of some happy accidents- let them be.
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
Choosing treatments before analysis is a good way to fail. It can be calculated, but that's not easy and the response will change as soon as another person (or more) enter the room.
The only treatments I'm doing right now are treatments to address obvious problems. Dampening curtains for the huge glass sliders. Couple of wall panels to tamp down the clear and audible reverb in the room. Just deadening a little. Not even going to mess around with corner traps or anything more elaborate until I've done the room analysis with a proper mic at the prime listening position.
 
J

Jerkface

Junior Audioholic
If you really want to be 'agnostic' about cabling, buy something and use it, without thinking about or comparing it with anything else. As a custom integrator, I have sometimes had to deal with the questions about cabling and at times, I provide all of it or I may take over a house where someone had installed with Munster Cable. In one place, the jacket is about 1/2" diameter, but it has two pairs of wires that are different guages "because low and high frequencies travel at different speeds". Bullcrap. For a 35 foot run, nobody will ever hear the difference and the other part of this scam is in the fact that one pair is 14ga while the other is 16ga. That stuff was probably over $3/foot in the '90s and while that price might seem quaint now, it's pretty high for something that makes no difference. Cable with batteries and proprietary circuits in little black boxes? GMAB!
The first thought I give to a cable when shopping around is, "How much marketing bullshit are they peddling here?"

Soon as some jerk starts talking about time-correction for skin effect, or break-in for the dielectric to molecularly align with the signal passing through the wire (as if!), or any number of other nonsensical (and unprovable) bullshit claims, I'm out. I believe in L/C/R, not audio astrology.
 

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