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LCD-2 and LCD-3 Owners - which aftermarket cable do you use?

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  1. DeadEars


    Quote:

    Let me describe one of my hi-fi systems that is totally balanced to perhaps help you with this.  I'm an analog/tube guy, so I'm going to stick with an analog description, but in theory the same thing holds true for digital.
     
    My system starts with a phono cartrige.  The phono cartridge converts physical motion into electrical current.  It has a magnet in it and a coil attached to a stylus.  When the stylus is placed on shiny black LP record, it wiggles sideways and up-and-down based on signals that are engraved on the surface of the record.  The sideways movement generates one channel signal, and the up-and-down generates the other channel signal (a sligtht oversimplification).  As the coil moves relative to the magnet, it generates a very very small voltage (0.25 millivolts).  When the stylus moves one way, the current is induced in one direction, and when it moves the other way, it induces current in the other direction. 
     
    For each channel, the stereo cartridge has two wires, which connect to the amplifier.  In a BALANCED configuration, there is no connection to ground (although there may be a separate grounding wire, which is not connected to the signal anywhere).  So the signal actual "floats" across the two wires, with no reference to ground.  This float is maintaned throughout the amplfication chain.  In my system there is a phono amp, a preamp, and an amplifier which always keep the signal floating, and a separate ground wire.  So balanced connectors have three wires for each channel, with the two wires for the signal (as it swings positive to negative and back) and one wire for the ground, as seen in your typical XLR connector.  Each amplfiication stage simply boosts the voltage of the signal, hopefully in exact proportion to the original signal.  The signal has to be made big enough so that it can drive the transducer at the end of the chain that moves air to make sound.  It is exactly like the phono cartridge in reverse, converting electrical currents into physical motion.  As the needle swings one way, it generates a signal which is amplified to move the speaker/headphone element an exactly proportionate amount in the same direction.
     
    In an UNBALANCED configuration, at the junction with the amplifier, one wire is connected to a + terminal, and the other to a - terminal, which is grounded.  Actually, the ground connection may be elevated by a resistor to a value above or below ground potential for the rest of the amplifier circuitry.  The ground might be separate for each channel, or the two grounds might be connected together and referenced to the same point throughout the circuit.  Each signal wire can then be thought of as having two components, the Plus which represents the whole signal relative to ground, and the Minus, which provides the ground reference point.  The whole signal is super-imposed as positive-to-negative swings of the phono needle relative to ground.  The Minus provides a return path for current to and from ground.  When the voltage on the signal wire goes negative relative to ground, current flows from ground, whereas when it goes positive current flows to ground (physically the electrons move the other direction, but don't worry about that).  So you only need two wires for each channel, usually connected via an RCA connector.  The center pin carries the signal relative to ground, and the outer shield carries the return path for signal current to flow.
     
    Under ideal conditions, these two connection approaches produce exactly the same results, regardless of whether they have two wires or three wires.  Some people argue that the balanced approach is actually INFERIOR b/c it requires more active amplification components to keep the signal elevated and floating above the ground.  The unbalanced amp requires fewer active components to achieve the same result, and every component has at least some chance of affecting the signal.
     
    Of course, we all know that there is no such thing as ideal conditions.  And the further we depart from ideal, the more valuable a balanced connection becomes.  For instance, throughout the amplification process, there is usually a chance for power supply noise (in the form of ripple currents, or HF interference, or induced currents) to be picked up by the wiring and to be amplified along with the signal.  In a balanced configuration a "blip" of power supply noise might be induced on both signal wires.  But since one half of the signal is going positive, and the other half is going negative, the noise is cancelled out.  It exists on both wires simultaneously, but in different polarity, so the transducer will not move and you will not hear the noise.
     
    In an unbalanced system, when noise is induced, it will always be relative to ground.  Since the signal is also referenced to ground, when noise is amplified along with the signal, it will also appear at the transducer, so you will hear it.  Well-designed unbalanced systems are carefully constructed to minimize any chance for noise to enter the signal path.  And most succeed, with noise anywhere from 70-110 db below signal.  However, it is still easier to disrupt an unbalanced system, and noise can become apparent in many ways, such as through power contamination (HF modulation from the power company, or other stuff connected to power lines in the home) or through interference along signal transitions, such as at connectors, or along cables.
     
    Equally excellent results can be achieved with either balanced or unbalanced connections.  Given the exact same circuit, under ideal conditions, unbalanced can actually sound better.  In real world terms, it mostly does not matter.  You do NOT get more power from a balanced system.  Nor does it sound any different (e.g. clearer/better) unless there are important noise components in your home or along your amplification chain.  Most of the effects attributed to unbalanced connections are due to other factors, not the connection or the wires.  So the whole balanced=better argument is frankly specious (and my name is Frank).[​IMG]
     
    Hope this helps!
     
    Frank
     
     
  2. K3cT

    Make it four. The best thing about this cable is how light the thing is besides being decently priced and providing improvement in the critical areas of course. :wink:
     
  3. Wedge
    On the topic of balanced cables, typically the "ground" connection is usually only connected on one side of the cable, to provide a shield for the cable (this is in addition to Frank's post above for those who might know).
     
    Interesting thing I did notice today is that on the WA-22 with my LCD-2 when using the balanced ports and comparing the 1/4" port, they did not sound the same.  It wasn't a question of power, but I'm not quite sure what could be different except for being terminated differently at the output transformer, which might also be the phenomena that others are experiencing with their "balanced" amplifiers.  Anyways the balanced ports sounded like they had more bass, the 1/4" sounded brighter, however without really sitting down and investigating, it might just be less bass fooling with me.
     
  4. DeadEars


    Quote:

    On the latter topic, I've heard a lot more differences in SQ due to connectors and wire geometry than I have due to wire composition (e.g. silver, copper, or silver-plated copper).  The same wire with different brand/type connectors sounds different, at least to me.  I suspect they affect the wire capacitance/resistance in minor, yet audible ways.  In general, I'm not a big believer in boutique wire, although I have heard differences (which makes me crazy).  So it could well be the nature of the connections that is causing the differerences you note above.  Or maybe you're just going crazy, like me...[​IMG]
     
    YMMV
     
     
  5. Wedge
    I actually have the same wire material, difference in conductor number.  XLR set of cables Norse Audio 8 conductor, 1/4" were Norse Audio 4 Conductor.  Although I can't prove it I tend to think the 4 vs 8 conductors would make that much of a difference in the sound.  2 other people listened as well, noted the exact same thing (three of us are engineers, at times electrical engineers can be the biggest skeptics).  Oh well, I know I am already crazy.  [​IMG]
     
  6. MacedonianHero Contributor

    See, we can agree on a few things. :smile:
     
  7. gogogasgas
     
    Well, careful when you ask for a 'fulsome' response! DeadEars, your explanation was excellent. Not being an audio engineer, I still got the gist of what you are saying. Thanks.
     
    KWKARTH- what I was trying to say is: in a push-pull amp, although a certain amount of distortion is cancelled out, purists say that the signal is affected because there is the potential for non linearity (ie out of phase) as the signal is amplified. I assume the phase issue is why single ended amps are pursued.
     
    I was thinking that although unwanted 'noise' is cancelled out in a balanced configuration, there is the potential that the two sides of the amplification process are unequal (for want of the proper terminology) - hence my reference to a push-pull amp. Same, same, but different, as the saying goes...
     
     
    Not crazy! I have been mulling over the same issue. I'm looking at a set of cables that have XLRs with contacts made from a different metal to the XLR sockets I sent Audio GD for my Phoenix. So, I will try to get the 'mates' for the XLRs fitted to my headphone amp when I order my cables to maintain the same type of metal contact. (eg gold female to gold male, silver female to silver male etc).
     
    Along these lines, I was thinking about cables that mix metals. For example, silver coated copper etc. A quick bit of research on ye olde internet yields information that suggests that could also be an issue. I think keeping the metals, or at least the metals in the contact points, the same in the connection chain is something to consider. 
     
    Not crazy either. Number of conductors, perhaps. XLR Vs Jack (ie single ended), more likely.
     
    Silver Dragon 3 - Although some have sent them back, there is a real following of these silver cables. Perhaps the SD3 users might provide some more insight into why they like their cables with the LCD-2s.
     
     
     
  8. DeadEars


    Quote:

    Nice to see we're both crazy in similar ways.  Get to share the same sanitarium wing...
     
    I've been meaning to build a bunch of different headphone wires for the LCD-2's to explore this further.  Specifically, I'm interested in different wire geometry (twisted pair, helix, braided, litz variations) first, while trying to keep the connectors as a constant.  I know that others have explored this, but those who have seem to have taken their findings to the bank by offering their "best" solutions as products for sale.  Few have shared their findings, at least here in the DIY forum.  I was taught that wire can be modeled based on resistance, capacitance, inductance, and nothing else matters.  So it's fascinating to me that geometry seems to matter WRT sound quality.
     
    When you add connector/brands & types and soldering/crimping approach & types/brands of solder as additional variables, the number of combinations/permutations becomes too large for a simple hobbyist like me to deal with.  And of course, these all interact with the geometry and with the characteristics of the headphones & drivers, so the "best" answer for one headphone brand/model may be quite different for another.  IOW, my LCD-2 solution will not be the best choice for Grados.
     
    That's the best argument I can think of for purchasing a commercial solution that many people have found to work well with your cans.  Lots of convergence of evidence that the maker has gotten it "right."  But of course still lots of opportunity for someone else to introduce a headphone cable that does it even better.  (sigh).
     
     
  9. castlevania32
    i'm about to order a 4-stranded cable from Trevor :
     
    -the 8-strand does not give a better sound
    -the 4-strand is lighter
     
    Also i want to insist on how bad the stock cable of the LCD2 is. I can't believe how awful it was. It is heavy, it changes shape, must be straigtened otherwise turns on itself,  too short, the sheath makes weird things, microphonics really hard after the breakout.
     
    I think trevor and audeze should associate to make the LCD2 comes in standard with the Norse. Even if that means an increased price on LCD2.
     
    edit : i'm talking about the ADZ-5
     
  10. hardtarget666


    Quote:

    I'm thinking about ordering balanced cable for my LCD-2 from Trevor. I would like to know how you came to the conclusion that 8 strand is no better than 4 strand. Its an honest question.
     
     
     
  11. castlevania32
    I don't have a scientific argument, it's based on my intuition. Somewhere i think i read that the only thing going from 4 to 8 is a resistance divison by 2. Which is totally pointless in this situation.
     
  12. Olias of Sunhillow


    Quote:

    My stock (new version) cable has none of these deficiencies. I expected to order an aftermarket cable almost immediately after receiving my LCD-2, but as of yet have had no reason to do so.
     
     
  13. hardtarget666


    Quote:

     
    Ok! I've kind of decided to go for the 8 cable one as it looks better IMHO although still not 100% sure if I want to go for all copper cable or silver or mix. But it does look like Norse is best bang for buck for the moment.
     
    Any more impressions on the Norse cable by anyone here will be very valuable.
     
    Thanks in advance.
     
  14. 45longcolt
    Go for the Norse because;
    (a) it does make a worthwhile improvement over stock;
    (b) it is notably well made;
    (c) Trevor is professional, communicative and delivers at warp speed.
    Last month he made me an 8-strand with the 4-pin XLR to fit the Violectric V181. When I wanted to use the cable on a Lyr as well, I asked him for an XLR to 1/4" adpater. From order to install was almost precisely 48 hours. Yes, really. Color me highly satisfied.
     
     
     
  15. kwkarth
    Good news!  Looks like Q-Audio has revised their prices a lot lower than they were at introduction.  They're balanced and terminated in an A4M, with TRS unbalanced adapter included.
     
    New pricing is:
     
    1. 1.0M - $200
    2. 1.5M - $215
    3. 2.0M - $230
    4. 2.5M - $250 
    5. 3.0M - $275 
    6. 3.5M - $300 
    7. 4.0M - $340
     
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