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Cable differences

post #1 of 118
Thread Starter 
I'm curious about different types/purposes of cable and their effect on the sound in headphones.

Regarding material, what sort of differences are there among, say: copper, silver, gold, combinations of those, other metals?

Also, what about wires that are used for different purposes - for example, thinner wire designed for headphones vs. thick speaker wire (what's the effect of using this wire on headphones?). Are there also significant differences in the internal resistance of different types of wire?
post #2 of 118
There are no significant differences in the general properties or conductivity of any of the conductors you mentioned, nor will increasing the gauge of the wire have any effect, at least in terms of any audible difference in headphone applications. That's the simple and factual answer, but no doubt more to follow. Do a search on this topic and you will no doubt find much more commentary than you care to read.
post #3 of 118
I dont believe in wire.... wire is wire, IMO. As long as the wire/cable is of good quality and OFC, that should be good enough. Wire (speaker wire too) is the biggest placebo in the speaker world.... perhaps in the headphone world, too.... but I cant say for sure since I havent heard a stock vs cable-upgraded headphones side by side.
post #4 of 118
All those metals are good conductors and I don't really see much difference between them used for cables than price and weight. The main difference I'd say is how easy the oxidize. Copper and silver will oxidize in air ( slowly they are quite noble metals really, nothing like magnesium that will oxidise very easily ), gold will not.
I don't know how relevant this is when used in cables since they are not that exposed to air or water and even if there is some oxidation the signal can travel through the largely unoxidised part.
For contact surfaces it is better to have something that will not oxidize though.

I'd guess things like twisting the cable and such might make some difference when running a AC through them as well as shielding.
Just changing the kind of metal that is in them ( within these 3 rather noble metals ) i doubt do much.

Clarification Changing compound will change the conductive properties of the cable, but a material with higher resistivity should be easy to counter with just a somewhat higher voltage from the amp. Same for thinner cable ( within reason )
Also you should take into account how large the change in the resistance of the cable becomes when changing metal compared to what kind of resistance the speaker elements give rise to.
Temperature will also effect the resistance of your cable.
I don't know if different materials have different frequencydependecies for resistivity etc.
All in all slight changes in the total impedance of your headphones/speakers isn't something that should effect sound much, other effects may be of somewhat larger importance.
And of course more expensive material does not have to equal better sound.

Some pages with more info
http://www.eddy-current.com/condres.htm
http://www.webelements.com/
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...ic/restmp.html
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu...ric/resis.html
http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/ph....html#Heading3
post #5 of 118
I was a big believer in the "wire is wire" philosophy. Then I, uhm, chewed through my coiled cable on my V6s. Ok, just chewed a short in them. So I took some cat 5, plyed 2 pairs together, wired them up and replaced the cable leading to the left headphone. The cable connecting hte left from the right is still the same. Damned if I can't easily hear a difference between the left and right phones now. So one of these days I'm going to drill a new hole in the right shell, and do a dual entry cable. Of course, the cable that comes standard on most headphones is tiny, so that's potentially the key difference.
post #6 of 118
Felt the same way, until at a mini-meet and compared two HD600s (one stock and one Zu, then swapped - later tried another pair with a Cardas). I don't doubt a lot of cable claims are BS, but all you have to do is compare side by side and it's pretty obvious. I'm not talking subtle (and believe me a don't have golden ears)... and on an even decent system it's not "the last 1-2%".
post #7 of 118
Were you listening to the same set of cans with the three different cables blessingx? I would guess that the variance between one set of 650s and another would be much greater than the difference between one cable and another.

See ya
Steve
post #8 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by arspy87
thinner wire designed for headphones vs. thick speaker wire (what's the effect of using this wire on headphones?). Are there also significant differences in the internal resistance of different types of wire?
Yes. It's all about resistances, as a high resistance decreases the signal.

Given two pieces of the same cable, with the difference that the one is twice as thick as the other one, the thin one will have twice the resistance of the thick one.
post #9 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot
Were you listening to the same set of cans with the three different cables blessingx? I would guess that the variance between one set of 650s and another would be much greater than the difference between one cable and another.
Swapped cables at the end between the two phones to verify the difference wasn't there. Cardas though was tested with single third phone switching stock to Cardas (thus a little longer between listens). From owning two HD650s (at different times) and hearing many at different meets, I'll say the Zu/stock difference is far in excess to normal phone production differences. Again it's not 1-2%.

I think it's important to note, at least with Senn cable upgrades, most of the people who buy the diff has owned one. Most of those that take the 'wire is wire' line hasn't. Think back, how many Head-Fiers have you heard bought an aftermarket Senn cable and then returned it (Zu has a 30 day return policy for instance)? I've heard a few say it wasn't worth the cash or they preferred a different cable (even stock), but not that the difference wasn't there. Again I don't doubt many cable claims are wildly exaggerated, but as for this specific Senn situation, it reminds me of the Hemingway quote about the only people who don't believe in love have never been in it.

Anyway Senn cables differences has been debated (sometimes heatedly) endlessly in the cables forum and is a bit off topic of the specific original question. I'll just say I'm no longer a 'wire is wire' believer (though I still use crappy speaker wire on my home stereo setup).
post #10 of 118
People with the "wire is wire" philosophy are lucky.

I have been unfortunate in that I was born with a severe case of placebo-itis. I seem to hear differences in Senn. cables, ICs and speaker cables.

I've learned to deal with it but it still comes up every so often. My doctors are miffed .
post #11 of 118
I have 2 x HD650, one with zu mobius and one with the equinox. Zu = dynamic, Equinox = smooth. The cables just impart a different sound signature on the music.

They are a decent upgrade on the stock cable with better clarity and soundstaging. I would say the difference in performance is 15%.
post #12 of 118
Wire is wire. That said, superior is wire is superior wire. Much like silver spark plugs are superior to copper plugs, silver wire is generally superior to that of copper. Material grade and construction of the wire is also a matter of importance. I have run four different sets of high-end plugs ($10.00+ per plug) of varying types (open electrode, recessed electrode), feeling for seat of the pants (SOTP) justification. Honestly? I could not feel the SOTP difference between them, much like many people will not hear the difference between cables. I also have an aftermarket piggyback ignition system, which equates to an amplifier. Bottom line is that it takes an experienced driver/trained ear to notice such subtleties. However, consecutive dyno graphs showed less spark blowout and a smoother HP/TQ curve (my baby outputs 475 RWHP/490 RWTQ SAE) with certain plugs. I gather that frequency analysis of high end cables may show graphed improvements over lesser cables.
post #13 of 118
Silver wire is not superior to copper wire. I prefer the HD650 stock copper cable to Silver Dragon That said, I'm looking forward to the Blue Dragon Version 2.
post #14 of 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamlau
Wire is wire. That said, superior is wire is superior wire. Much like silver spark plugs are superior to copper plugs, silver wire is generally superior to that of copper.
Silver spark plugs are superior to copper plugs for specific reasons. What's the claimed reason that silver wire is superior to that of copper in a general sense?
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamlau
Material grade and construction of the wire is also a matter of importance.
IMO even this is a matter of specifics. For example, you don't need a hospital grade power cord on your toaster (and maybe not on your stereo either, this would be up for debate).
post #15 of 118
BLESSINGX - Thank you for your opinion. It's more honest and makes more sense than most everything else I've read. And not just because I agree with what you've said, though I do. I think wire does affect the sound and so its effect become a preference. I wouldn't buy an upgraded cable if I didn't have the option to return it if I didn't feel it improved the sound.
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