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electrical engineers: Why do cables improve sound?

post #1 of 602
Thread Starter 
1) This thread is not meant to be a rehash of the "skeptic's challenge" wherein someone says "cable upgrades are useless lol"

That out of the way, what is the technical explanation for why a cable upgrade can improve the sound? For instance, there are many who would laugh you out of the room if you suggested that adding a different cable to the HD650 would make it sound differently. I was one of those until I got the Zu cable, and while the difference isn't night and day like some would make you believe, there is a small audible difference in the sound, and I'm curious as to why that is the case.

If you do not have a knowledgeable (and scientifically correct) technical explanation, please refrain from gibberish.

Thanks,
Eric
post #2 of 602
http://www.cardas.com/content.php?ar...truction+Guide

Have fun Be sure to read the burn in article too.
post #3 of 602
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solude
http://www.cardas.com/content.php?ar...truction+Guide

Have fun Be sure to read the burn in article too.
http://www.audioholics.com/techtips/...resonances.php

Not quite what I'm looking for. I read the guide at cardas about resonance, but the audioholics guide completely debunks that.
post #4 of 602
Think you missed about 10 pages of the document if all you read was resonance.

That said Audioholics are on crack! I don't care about their paper world, in the real world cables resonate. All I have to do to prove that is pick up my Kimber 8TC while music plays and its resonating away in my hand.

Didn't point you to Cardas because I'm a fanboy, pointed you there because George has posted real world facts about cables for the world to read. I don't know of any other manufacturer that does that.
post #5 of 602
I'm no EE, so I can't explain the details, but there is a direct and measurable correlation between cable length vs. width and its effect on damping factor. Indeed, this effect is even quite predictable! For instance... Play with this! (at the bottom)

Notice that while the changes are fairly large with subwoofer-like numbers (High power, low impedence) while with headphone like numbers (low-power, high-impedance) that the changes are fairly small. Still, they might be audible and thus may explain some of the differences in cables. Incidently, it is my opinion that this is why the cheap Home Depot wires sound better (and they do!). They are simply thicker and thus allowing a higher damping factor.

But then again, I'm no EE... so don't take my word for it.
post #6 of 602
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solude
Think you missed about 10 pages of the document if all you read was resonance.

That said Audioholics are on crack! I don't care about their paper world, in the real world cables resonate. All I have to do to prove that is pick up my Kimber 8TC while music plays and its resonating away in my hand.
The problem is that their "paper world" is based on scientific law. To me, that supercedes whatever it is I think I'm perceiving. I don't think I've ever felt a cable "resonating away in my hand".

As for the construction guide, all I read is what they think is happening and why they think it is happening. That takes a backseat to proper science, as far as I am concerned. Which is why I posted this thread: I'm looking for proper science.
post #7 of 602
I don't want to jump into this, but I do want to point out that the reason that you have audio equipment in the first place is because of people slaving away in the paper world while other people thought they were insane because you can pay a small fee to go hear live people play nearby.
post #8 of 602
To say George Cardas is back of the bus pretty much guarantees no one else will reply to this thread. If what a highly respected and admired 40 year veteran has learned over the years isn't good enough well your search is hopeless.

But there is hope, you have a SinglePower and Mikhail is building cables now so... maybe he can enlighten you since George isn't good enough for you.
post #9 of 602
Think my paper world comment is being taken out of context. Mathematics and electrical engineering are real world things. They exist on paper to apply to the real world. I am an engineer, I know the paper world represents the real world most times.

That paper says one thing, while the real world says another is nothing new, nor should it surprise anyone in design.

The audioholics article goes through an equation to achieve a result. The result is correct on paper. In the real world, that result is present but so are things not accounted for in the equation. Essentially, that my PSB Gold/Kimber 8TC/Acurus DAI100 combo results in the 8TC resonating proves that the equation didn't account for cabinet pollution. Ie the Audioholics article is single minded and does not take into account the 'system'.

So while the equation's result is true, the equation doesn't take the system as a whole into account and therefore fails to represent the real world findings.
post #10 of 602
So what is the cable construction of the smurf?
post #11 of 602
EricP - If all that matters is Audioholic's words and formulas, why bother listening or asking? I've heard differences in interconnects using different dielectric insulation and it corresponds with explanations that have been "debunked" by Audioholic types, who always seem willing to provide links and formulas but never bother to listen for themselves. The proper science may be lurking somewhere out there, but it may be that the wrong things are being measured, or more accurately the right things aren't... but not everything is placebo and just because there may not be a suitable explanation right now doesn't mean there isn't one to explain the difference in cables sounding... well, er, different. My contention, in simplistic terms would be that wire with insulation that has a lower dielectric constant displays phase diistortion that is less audible than one with a higher dielectric constant; I prefer Teflon to PVC because cables wrapped in the latter usually sound smeared in the treble.
post #12 of 602

It's More Complicated Than This, But:

Capacitance is the most important concern for interconnects.

Inductance and resistance are the most important concerns for speaker cables.

Read the FAQs on BlueJeanCable's website:
http://bluejeanscable.com/articles/index.htm

These guys are actual engineers and technicians, and my company has actually sought engineering advice and cabling tips from them.

I decide based on a magical hybrid technical specifications and listening tests.
post #13 of 602
Smurf is based loosely on the Reference series with changes made for headphone application. Ie though based on the Reference config, its no Neutral Reference. Unless you are, forget his name in France, then it is
post #14 of 602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solude
So while the equation's result is true, the equation doesn't take the system as a whole and therefore fails to represent the real world findings.
There is a place for theory. I think that everyone can agree that while theory and the real world are often related they are, by their very definition, fundamentally different.

Theory is the domain of the abstract while the real world is the domain of the concrete.

In theory a perfect circle that conforms to pi exists. In the real world it does not.
post #15 of 602
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solude
To say George Cardas is back of the bus pretty much guarantees no one else will reply to this thread. If what a highly respected and admired 40 year veteran has learned over the years isn't good enough well your search is hopeless.
The thing is, George Cardas is an ex-racecar driver turned entrepreneur, not an engineer, so the marketing material on his site is not really relevant to this thread -- especially since it cites no sources and may be prone to a certain degree of unscientific bias since he sells these products. The original poster seems to be looking for answers from actual electrical engineers.

Siegfried Linkwitz, the EE who co-invented the Linkwitz-Riley filter used in most mainstream speakers, has some good comments about cables on his site.
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