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Is it worth using nice wire for the ground channel?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
I'm wondering if it will make any difference sonically if I use some nice copper wire I have for L/R channels and some lesser wire for ground on a single ended headphone output?

I'm also wondering about RCA outs. I could see how the ground channel on a headphone out might have an impact but it seems to me it doesn't matter on an RCA out long as it grounds the signal.
post #2 of 53
You're still passing the signal through it, so if you're a cable believer, then yes. In a balanced cable though, you're linking two grounds together so unless you think that the chassis you're using is "high end metal", it doesn't really make sense.
post #3 of 53
Don't know why you would bother - the difference in cost is what, 30c?
post #4 of 53
Yup don't go cheap on the ground signal, since it still carries a signal.
post #5 of 53
Well, depends on wire, difference in cost could be $8/ft
post #6 of 53
If there's one word that should be permanently removed from the lexicon of electrical terms it's the word "ground."

A signal propagates down a cable as a transverse electromagnetic wave between two conductors, neither of which is more important or less important than the other. As far as the cable is concerned, there is no "ground," or "send," or "return."

k
post #7 of 53
If you're using modestly priced cable (navships SPC, for instance), why not? If you were using really nice wire for the L/R channels and think that it makes a difference there, then you should nice wire for the ground return as well since the signal still passes through it.

The reason it's called ground is because it is a reference point. We have to have a reference point in order to give meaningful measurements of other points. Of course, one should not be so focused on the term ground itself that we forget that it simply a part of the circuit like any other. Often, in audio electronics, the ground channel or path is distinctly different from any others, hence why we give it special nomenclature. I don't see what's wrong with that, Koyaan.
post #8 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juaquin View Post
If you're using modestly priced cable (navships SPC, for instance), why not? If you were using really nice wire for the L/R channels and think that it makes a difference there, then you should nice wire for the ground return as well since the signal still passes through it.
There is no "ground return," the signal exists between the two conductors. There isn't a signal being "sent" on one conductor and "returned" on the other conductor.

Quote:
The reason it's called ground is because it is a reference point. We have to have a reference point in order to give meaningful measurements of other points.
Well, you need two points to measure any differential quantity, such as voltage. I don't see that either is any more a "reference" than the other. I mean, given points A and B, the difference between those two points is the same whether you call "A" the reference or "B" the reference.

Quote:
Of course, one should not be so focused on the term ground itself that we forget that it simply a part of the circuit like any other. Often, in audio electronics, the ground channel or path is distinctly different from any others, hence why we give it special nomenclature.
Distinctly different from any others? Distinctly different in what respect exactly?

Quote:
I don't see what's wrong with that, Koyaan.
What's wrong is that it leads to misunderstandings such as the notion that "ground" is some entity unto itself as exemplified by the post which began this thread.

k
post #9 of 53
Yes, technically there is no sending/returning of the signal. But because we like to think of a signal as the flow of charge, we like to talk about it like that. Anyone who works with electronics will talk about it as a send/return (including my EE professors) because that is conceptually the way that is easiest to analyze. If you want to argue semantics like that you're going to have to take on a lot more people than are present in this thread.

We pick the ground reference (usually) because it is common to the most signals, or is most easily understood that way. Feel free to just start labeling things points A and B, but you'll lose a lot of people when trying to explain things.

Many amps use different topologies for the ground channel (assuming an active ground). If there isn't an active ground, then it's obviously different because there is no path - it is a single node. The amplification path of the L/R signals is not a single node. Hence why we choose to call something ground.

And yes, some people who are new or just not sure will think that ground is somehow different than any other path in the flow of a signal. Which is why those who know more (or are more sure) should kindly point it out.

All of that answered, I would like to turn the thread back to the OP's original question. If you'd like to argue semantics of electronics I'm sure we can find another thread for that.
post #10 of 53
I personally like to use a better wire or thicker gauge of the same wire on my errrmmm return paths in single ended applications. in differential signals of course for the signal wires I use the same wire and gauge, with a good quality and quite thick copper conductor for the chassis ground; thicker than any other signal wire. for SE I often use copper on signal and silver on return. its just a habbit I got into and have liked the results.
post #11 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by stew1234 View Post
I'm wondering if it will make any difference sonically if I use some nice copper wire I have for L/R channels and some lesser wire for ground on a single ended headphone output?

I'm also wondering about RCA outs. I could see how the ground channel on a headphone out might have an impact but it seems to me it doesn't matter on an RCA out long as it grounds the signal.
Sounds like you're talking about 3 leads. In that case, your ground wire should be at least as good as the others because it's part of the signal path. You might also consider doubling it or using a wire gauge that's 3 AWG lower (twice as much surface area) because it's carrying the current for two signals. Since interconnect cables (RCA or otherwise) carry the same current in both wires, there's no need to do this.
post #12 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juaquin View Post
Yes, technically there is no sending/returning of the signal. But because we like to think of a signal as the flow of charge, we like to talk about it like that.
Why would one like to talk about something as if it were something that it's not?

Even if one wishes to think of a signal as the flow of charge, the send/return notion falls flat on its face, as in audio, our signals are AC, not DC, so half the time your send is a return and your return is a send.

So how does thinking in terms of send/return provide anyone with any sort of meaningful knowledge and understanding?

It doesn't. It just leads to misunderstanding.

Quote:
Anyone who works with electronics will talk about it as a send/return (including my EE professors) because that is conceptually the way that is easiest to analyze.
Just because we've got into the habit of something doesn't mean the habit is a good one. And if we never question our habits, the bad ones only get more and more entrenched.

Quote:
If you want to argue semantics like that you're going to have to take on a lot more people than are present in this thread.
As a wise man once said, even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Quote:
We pick the ground reference (usually) because it is common to the most signals, or is most easily understood that way. Feel free to just start labeling things points A and B, but you'll lose a lot of people when trying to explain things.
So instead I should tell people things which will likely only lead to misunderstanding?

I'll pass.

k
post #13 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by qusp View Post
I personally like to use a better wire or thicker gauge of the same wire on my errrmmm return paths in single ended applications. in differential signals of course for the signal wires I use the same wire and gauge, with a good quality and quite thick copper conductor for the chassis ground; thicker than any other signal wire. for SE I often use copper on signal and silver on return. its just a habbit I got into and have liked the results.
Personally, one is free to do whatever they want for whatever reasons they want.

But when it comes to understanding what's actually going on, that's another matter entirely.

And from a cable's point of view, there's absolutely no distinction whatsoever between being driven from an unbalanced source or a balanced source.

k
post #14 of 53
Like I said, I'm not going to derail this thread further. If you'd like to take on the whole industry and get rid of the word "ground", I wish you luck.
post #15 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the comments they're all very helpful.

I obviously do not posses a an EE background and the discussion has proved insightful for me.
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