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Audio Cables, where to start?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I recently bought some HiFiMan he-500's and have been absolutely wowed by them, but I have a serious issue with the cable that comes with it.. ( Also have AD-900X's in my possession as well)

It's not really all that great and I'd like to replace it, (feels cheap, lots of "cable noise?") but I have a few questions about that:

 

Is silver better/different than copper? Does it make a difference?   If there are differences, what would they be?

(I'd rather not have any snake oil slung at me about how a $1500000000000 cable turns them into a completely different headphone so please try not to do that :confused_face(1):  )

 

I was going to have a guy from reddit/r/headphones make me one but I've been put on a "few weeks" waiting list and I'd rather not wait.

I'd prefer to have the cable sleeved and braided if possible ( I love that look, it's magnificent IMO)

 

Also if you could point me in a direction of any places that can make cables for me, I'd like that quite a bit.  I've been thinking about "headphonelounge" because a friend of mine recommended me but I'd like other options as well if possible.

 

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Edited by DarrenLays - 5/6/14 at 4:35am
post #2 of 11

I have the HE-400 and the stock 'canare' cable, as well as the HE-500 silver cable.

 

I know what you mean about the silver one - it seems to have a mind of its own. I went back to the stock cable and failed to hear much difference with my semi-mobile set up. :o

 

Silver is a better conductor than copper - every cruise missile has about 30 pounds of silver, instead of copper wiring, solder etc. and not by coincidence!

 

Maybe you can investigate whether someone can put a sleeve on your HE-500 silver cable?

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHiFi View Post
 

I have the HE-400 and the stock 'canare' cable, as well as the HE-500 silver cable.

 

I know what you mean about the silver one - it seems to have a mind of its own. I went back to the stock cable and failed to hear much difference with my semi-mobile set up. :o

 

Silver is a better conductor than copper - every cruise missile has about 30 pounds of silver, instead of copper wiring, solder etc. and not by coincidence!

 

Maybe you can investigate whether someone can put a sleeve on your HE-500 silver cable?

 

 

 

Alright, I'll look into that.    Do you think sleeving the stock cable would fix the noisy-ness of it?  

 

I'm really in love with these headphones, my current dac/amp is just a measely fiio e5 and fiio d3 dac, hoping to get an o2 + odac soon.

 

I just wish the cable didn't suck! lol XD

post #4 of 11

I would recommend trying to do it yourself. It may seem intimidating but it will cost you a few dollars whereas getting one made will always be expensive.

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveHiFi View Post

Silver is a better conductor than copper - every cruise missile has about 30 pounds of silver, instead of copper wiring, solder etc. and not by coincidence!
It's not a coincidence. Heavy diesel engines can have silver terminals on wires, too, but that is because silver has better performance in a thermal environment, and the signals being transmitted are important to the safe operation of the vehicle.

In terms of audio performance of headphones, the benefit of silver wires is going to be trumped several times over by the equipment and music you're feeding through them. You'll get a small benefit, but you're much better off investing that cash into a better amp.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraken2109 View Post

I would recommend trying to do it yourself. It may seem intimidating but it will cost you a few dollars whereas getting one made will always be expensive.
Some crimping, some soldering, and some heat shrink. Soldering can get intense if you're trying to mount components on a PCB, but we're just talking about a couple bits of wire and maybe on the terminals, so this is a beginner-level task in terms of electrical DIY.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenLays View Post

 

I just wish the cable didn't suck! lol XD

 

I'm loving my 400s - they're just fine out of the Fiio X3, although I cannot listen to them long without wanting to try other headphones as well!

 

I might try a bit of heat shrink tubing on my '500 cable, I keep feeling like I'm about to telephone Oliver Hardy ;)

 

Or could I melt it down and make a nice teaspoon? :tongue_smile:

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by superjawes View Post


In terms of audio performance of headphones, the benefit of silver wires is going to be trumped several times over by the equipment and music you're feeding through them. You'll get a small benefit, but you're much better off investing that cash into a better amp.
 

 

 

How exactly does a "better amp" help anyways? If they're being properly powered, how does changing an amp change anything whatsoever?

 

I've always been curious about this, any help would be great :p


Edited by DarrenLays - 5/6/14 at 8:55pm
post #8 of 11

Better amp can encompass many performance parameters; power, impedance handling, output impedance, acoustic transparency etc. It is the last stage in delivering you the signal after all. Fortunately, you don't have to worry too much with your HE-500, it is designed with a higher sensitivity and is purely resistive so all the things I listed wouldn't matter too much except acoustic transparency; hiss-free, uncolored signal.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenLays View Post


How exactly does a "better amp" help anyways? If they're being properly powered, how does changing an amp change anything whatsoever?

I've always been curious about this, any help would be great tongue.gif
Lots of ways. (And I think you'll find that these are largely related)

1. Linearity. You touch on it when you say "properly powered," but just because your headphones have enough power does not mean that your amplifier is delivering a linear response. Non-linearities will result in distortion as the amplitude rises. Rise too high and you'll hit the voltage rail, which causes clipping (and nasty sonic effects).

2. Impedance. Okay, so your amp can deliver up to 8 Watts RMS per channel, but does it? We can get into electrical dampening, but let's focus on power. Power equals voltage times current. Current will be determined by the impedance of the headphones. Higher impedance, lower current (which is Ohm's law, V = I * R). The voltage across your headphones is going to be determined by the relationship between the source and headphone impedance.

See, the output impedance of the amplifier comes from an electrical model we (electrical engineers) like to use where we reduce a circuit down to a voltage source and a resistor. The resistor is the output impedance, which we can measure, and the voltage source is the signal you want to feed to your 'phones. When we feed that voltage signal to your headphones, the voltage is divided between the output and headphone impedances. You want your headphone impedance to be sufficiently higher than the output impedance or else you're never going to get the purported power because your voltage is cut before it reaches your drivers.

3. Frequency response. This is related to linearity, but it is certainly worth considering on its own. A frequency response plot shows how much power from various signal frequencies is passed through the amplifier (0 dB means that 100% of the signal is passed; greater than zero is amplification, and less than zero is attenuation). Your music consists of many frequencies at different power levels, and this is another way to analyze how your amplifier will change the way it sounds. You generally want the pass band to be wide enough so you aren't rolling off your bass and/or treble.

4. Noise. Just because you have a very linear amp does not mean that it isn't inserting its own noise into your music.

5. Intentional distortion. Where would rock n' roll be without electric guitar distortion? Sometimes you want some color to your music, and an amp can add that. Most commonly we get this through tubes, as solid state (transistor) amplifiers tend to be more on the linear side.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenLays View Post
 

I recently bought some HiFiMan he-500's and have been absolutely wowed by them, but I have a serious issue with the cable that comes with it.. ( Also have AD-900X's in my possession as well)

It's not really all that great and I'd like to replace it, (feels cheap, lots of "cable noise?") but I have a few questions about that:

 

Is silver better/different than copper? Does it make a difference?   If there are differences, what would they be?

 

If you can hear a difference between cables while blindfolded, you have better ears than me.   And I say this having tried expensive speaker cables, expensive interconnects and a $300 pair of custom cables for my LCD2s.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by vkalia View Post

If you can hear a difference between cables while blindfolded, you have better ears than me.   And I say this having tried expensive speaker cables, expensive interconnects and a $300 pair of custom cables for my LCD2s.
Chances are your cables will not make an audible difference unless you're going from single-ended to balanced, but that's not just a cabling change. That requires a circuit change through the amplifier to your headphones. If you get an audible difference between two like cables (both single ended or both balanced), it means that there's probably a defect in one of the cables, or an engineer did a very poor job designing it.
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