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What's the point of big fat thick high quality cables?

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
So...
Signals in cables flow through free electrons right? so at first glance it would make perfect sense to make a thicker cable with as little oxygenation as possible to maximize the quality of the signal.
But when the actual jacks are probably made of a far inferior metal (I'm not sure which, but they are generally gold or silver PLATED, rather than solid gold or silver), and the actual points of contact within the amplifier or whatever you're plugging into are of about a few square millimeters at the absolute most (I'm thinking of mini jacks here), then what difference is it really going to make?
The actual connections MUST act as a bottleneck. If somebody introduced a female socket designed to maximize contact with the jack, it would make logical sense that this would affect the signal quality far more, and probably far cheaper.

These big, fat, pure silver, multicore line-out docks seem so pointless and impotent when the signal is coming through a couple of tiny 0.5mm pins (probably made of whichever metal was cheapest to apple), which there can only be a few free electrons in for the signal to flow through.

Someone prove my theory wrong, please...
post #2 of 82
I was kind of thinking the same thing a while ago, I'd also like to hear some thoughts...
post #3 of 82
Thread Starter 
Also if you think about the actual circuit inside of all your audiophile gear, It's going to have been put together with SOLDER. That's not an audiophile metal at all. It's a cheap alloy, and does not conduct electricity well. The actual signal being processed must have to fight against every component and solder joint, before going through some tiny contact point in a jack/RCA cable, and then all of a sudden it has all these lush green pastures of free electrons in $thousands$ 99.9999999999% 1cm thick oxygen free silver. It just does'nt add up.
post #4 of 82
Can of worms, Pandoras box etc. etc.
post #5 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark_h View Post
Can of worms, Pandoras box etc. etc.
On a more positive note, at least this thread will be plenty long
post #6 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by indysmith View Post
Also if you think about the actual circuit inside of all your audiophile gear, It's going to have been put together with SOLDER. That's not an audiophile metal at all. It's a cheap alloy, and does not conduct electricity well. The actual signal being processed must have to fight against every component and solder joint, before going through some tiny contact point in a jack/RCA cable, and then all of a sudden it has all these lush green pastures of free electrons in $thousands$ 99.9999999999% 1cm thick oxygen free silver. It just does'nt add up.
IMHO, I think one needs to look at the underlying science and avoid anthropomorphic terms that skew the reality of the situation.

Would you suggest removing all resistors from the circuits so the electrons don't have to "fight against" those, too? Resistors exist in circuits to reduce voltage and current....any negative effect of proper solder joints is minimal.

And what properties make a metal an "audiophile" metal?
post #7 of 82
Thread Starter 
I'm not a scientist, and I'm not pretending to be one. I don't know all that much about the flow of electricity or about circuit design. What I do know is that electricity flows through free electrons, there is less resistance in a thicker wire because there is more metal and therefore more free electrons, and that audiophiles like to spend huge amount of money on these cables that carry an already-degraded signal to their drivers or between their seperates. To me this doesn't make sense and this is why I've started a thread about it - so somebody could explain it to me, a mere mortal, in a way I can understand.
post #8 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sejarzo View Post
Would you suggest removing all resistors from the circuits so the electrons don't have to "fight against" those, too? Resistors exist in circuits to reduce voltage and current....any negative effect of proper solder joints is minimal.
Yes, actually I would - I don't understand why you'd put resistors in the audio signal's path, as I'd imagine they would degrade the signal in a far from predictable way, and I'd expect them to attenuate some frequencies more than others. Why aren't the voltages and current attenuated in the power stage before amplification, rather than attenuating the actual audio signal?
I don't understand any of this, but it's not the point of the thread, which is about cables and connectors. Maybe you'd like to PM me to explain about the use of resistors in an audio circuit?
post #9 of 82
No audio circuits can work without resistors/resistance. End of story.

There are lots of web resources you can easily find to learn and understand these concepts.

What do you think a volume control consists of????

You seem to attribute a lot of negative impact to audio signals from resistance in connectors--that's why I tried to bring up the point that resistance isn't a bad thing, it's necessary. If you want to try to understand electronics, you do need to make the attempt to better understand the fundamental concepts--otherwise you just end up more confused.

But as you might conclude, yes, I agree, the big fat silver LOD's are not necessary.
post #10 of 82
Thread Starter 
Okay, so resistance is necessary in an audio circuit. I'll take your word for it, but I'm assuming it's not supposed to be there when leaving the circuit since people are buying these expensive cables, so why the tiny connectors between amp and cable?
post #11 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by indysmith View Post
Okay, so resistance is necessary in an audio circuit. I'll take your word for it, but I'm assuming it's not supposed to be there when leaving the circuit since people are buying these expensive cables, so why the tiny connectors between amp and cable?
The tiny connectors are just industry standard invented in order to cut corners.

Once upon a time there was competition (e.g. the superior DIN connectors) but the cheapest won.

It doesn't make a difference for most applications anyway, and the few "audiophiles" are a negligible quantity.

Besides of that resistance is only one criterium.According to the believers the measurable differences in inductance and capacitance are audible.
post #12 of 82
"Hearing is believing" should be true in this case, I guess
post #13 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by indysmith View Post
.....so why the tiny connectors between amp and cable?
Tiny with respect to what? Any connector is vastly huge with respect to electrons. Assuming that we are considering line level voltages and very small currents, not speaker cables....well, just look at the size of the traces on a printed circuit board! RCA connectors are massive compared to those.
post #14 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by indysmith View Post
Okay, so resistance is necessary in an audio circuit. I'll take your word for it, but I'm assuming it's not supposed to be there when leaving the circuit since people are buying these expensive cables, so why the tiny connectors between amp and cable?
Also take a look at the form factor of the devices you are discussing: Ipods, etc. An RCA jack is at least twice as thick as an entire Ipod is. An ideal model for a cable (interface) would be 0 ohms resistance, and no inductance or capacitance as well. Doesn't happen in the real world, but putting 18ga conductors on an Ipod LOD with 30ga pins and currents in the microamp range is... stupid. Blings good tho...
post #15 of 82
A good reason for resistance (impedance) in audio circuits.....hope this makes sense!

Think about your headphones. You need higher and higher voltage to drive them louder, and more voltage requires more current....because voltage is the mathematical product of current and impedance (which is effectively resistance to alternating current voltages, such as audio signals.)

Thus, the primary job of an amplification chain is to accurately amplify voltage, and next to have the ability to provide the current required to drive the load.

That's why the inputs of power amps and head amps should have high impedance. If they didn't, the output of the previous device (DAC, CD player, sound card, whatever) would have to be designed to push out more current.

It's much easier in the real world, as Pars mentioned, to design devices that are accurate, low distortion voltage amplifiers if they don't also need to put out high current levels. Think of it as doing a lot of very accurate calculations up to a point, then leaving the grunt work to a single device that is specifically designed to put out more power.
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