10 Audio Cable Myths and Facts

In a sea of audio cable industry snake oil, we’re sure you’re wondering, What really matters when buying cables?Save your money by avoiding overpriced cables with outlandish claims. Below are some common myths to look out for and some important things to consider when buying audio cables.
CABLE MYTHS1. Conductor skin effect

In some applications like power transmission lines, an electric signal tends to travel through the surface of a conductor and avoids traveling through the center of the conductor. Many cable companies claim that their design limits the skin effect and measurably improves your sound.

The TruthWhile skin effect is a very real issue for large scale power transmission, audio signals are in such a low-frequency range that the skin effect is negligible at best. The skin effect is only an issue in high-frequency applications. 20kHz is the highest frequency that humans can hear. If we calculate the skin effect on a 12 AWG speaker cable like Gene from Audioholics does in this article, we find that the skin effect results in a loss of only -.014dB. Your speakers, room acoustics, and the human ear have a much larger effect on your sound than the skin effect.
2. Cable break-in

Don’t be fooled - any company that claims this thinks they can trick you into hearing better sound after a month or two. “Break-in” is a commonly used term throughout the industry. It is the idea that the dielectric of a cable changes and aligns itself to the electromagnetic field of the signal traveling through the conductors.

The Truth

There is no scientific evidence to support the idea of cable break-in, but there are still those who claim it improves sonic qualities. We’re not against optimism. We’re just not full of crap. Don’t drink the audio industry kool-aid and save your money for legitimate cables.

3. Cryogenic treatment

Cryogenic treatment is the process of freezing cables to -320 degrees Fahrenheit before use. The claim is that freezing the conductors of the cable at ultra low temperatures aligns the crystalline grain structure of them resulting in desirable improvements.

The Truth

Again there is no scientific data to support this notion. Cryogenic treatment can improve the durability of certain metals, usually steel, by stabilizing impurities. For example, the process is used to create strong tools or car parts.  

But, steel is a terrible metal to use for audio cables. It is one of the least conductive metals out there! Copper and silver are the best conductors of electricity and the preferred metals for audio cables.

4. Cable signal direction

You might hear this phrase tossed around quite a bit. It’s the notion that a cable has an established signal direction, the direction in which it was initially used, and that this signal direction should not be reversed.

The Truth

The reality is, assuming the connector ends and terminals are the same, the cable will work in both directions and the performance will be equivalent.

5. Cable elevators, risers, or lifts


The claim is that the cables’ magnetic field can interfere with the surface it is laying on. Essentially, the magnetic field can “reflect” from the surface back into the cable and cause distortions.


The Truth

There is no evidence to support these claims, and these unnecessary devices are merely for looks. They are in no way proven to improve cable performance.  

    CABLE FACTS1. Shielding is Important

    In the modern age, wireless signals are all around us all the time. The rapid growth and spread of technology means that these wireless signals will become more widespread and more likely to cause unwanted interference. Cellphones, wifi, and Bluetooth signals can enter your cables, but shielding can block these signals and preserve your sound quality.

    2. Length is a Factor

    No matter how well a cable is designed, cable length will always impact performance. As the length of a cable goes up, so does the risk of unwanted interference and signal loss. We always recommend keeping your cables as short as possible, but we understand that is not always possible. A well constructed and shielded cable will help combat this issue.

      3. Conductor material plays a role

      The best conductors to use for audio cables are pure silver or pure copper. Both are valued for their high conductivity, but copper is more widely used due to the high price of silver. Additionally, some variations are constructed with silver-plated copper. However, because the metals have different conductivities, the sound is more likely to travel through only the silver plating and not the copper.

      The purity of the conductor will affect performance more than anything. Look for Oxygen-Free High Conductivity (OFHC) conductors. This means that a significant percentage of oxygen and other impurities have been removed from the conductor resulting in high purity.  

      4. Wire gauge should not be overlooked

      The amount of wattage your system is using will determine the total gauge size needed for safe and optimal performance. The standard is 14 gauge wire minimum for the transmission of 250 watts of power. Many electronic devices use much less than this, but some speakers and listening setups may be using more. If your system uses more than 250 Watts, we recommend a higher total gauge cable.

      5. Quality connectors matter

      Truly, the best connectors are no connectors at all. But, if you can’t hardwire your system, gold plated connectors are the industry standard. Gold plating exhibits great corrosion resistance when exposed to oxygen and has good conductive properties. Connectors range from basic to extremely high end and flashy.

      The bottom line is:
      Choose connectors based on your personal needs and the type of connection being made. Overall, always choose quality connectors.  

      We hope these myths and facts will help you choose quality, reasonably priced cables to complete your listening room, studio, or whatever your setup may be.

      Share your setup with us in the comments below!

      What's with all the psycho, jarga?
      Differences in cable sound, for crying out loud..
      Myths or NOT.... 

      Do we have to perform blind test? Not really. This is a forum  for discovery, through trial and error, through personal experiences, from shared knowledge. I hope someone else did the work, so I can save some time.. I just want a ballpark of opinions, (including deleted ones) to form my own informed decision.  
      Psychology and honesty go hand in hand.. 'To thine own self be true".
      Your saying a lot of folks are full of it.  Ok your right.. Most have a propensity, to embellish the facts, truth, the finding... 
      That does not negate A CHANGE in perceived sound, just how much of a change, and what kind of change is the issue.  

      That's what most want to know.. The biggest problem, is being able to break it down in layman's terms, so I CAN UNDERSTAND.. 
      Words matter, what we say, type, and think are ALL different...

      The most important thing to me is "The Sound", communicating to others how I got there, seems to be one of he biggest problems on these forums.  My ability to say what I mean, and others understand what I said....That's TOUGH.. 

      From a background in very expensive maintenance.  I never talked myself into believing, "THAT NOISE" went away. When it didn't.
      Same thing, I didn't walk up and immagine noise either. 

      One thing I did notice through all the years, some people just can't hear, some people won't hear, some don't pay enough attention to hear. Then there are those, that hear EVERYTHING, including the neighbors snoring at night, in the house next door, through how many walls?? Golden Ears?
      or Gladys Kravitz, DUNO...It still boils down to training yourself to discern the difference... Not easy, not subjective, it's a skillset...Much like any other...

      Interesting conversation, BUT the claims, just crack me up, pro and con..

       What is a Lead Head? Heavy for sure...

      Respectfully and with regard

      A few years ago I was on the cables don't matter boat. I refused to believe the obscene costs warranted the performance. 
      My system at that time was not what it is now. At the time my speakers were Dali Rubicon 6s' amps were Rogue M100 monoblocks if memory serves me correctly. I was using a "budget brand" of speaker cables called River Cables that seemed to be well built with a nice fit and finish.
      My local dealer that I have a good relationship with let me barrow a pair of Nordost speaker cables. They were not Blue Heaven nor  were they Valhalla they were somewhere in-between. I will not mention the series. I listened to them for almost a month. I said yeah I don't hear it I'm not going spend the money.
      I put my budget speaker cables back in and said OMG! They sound like S#!T!
      I can't explain the science design or anything else regarding cable, but they do make a difference.
      Happy Listening
      Many, if not most, of those blind tests have a large group of people sitting throughout a room, none of them in the perfect sweet spot, listening to a combination of gear they likely have never listened to before and potentially listening to short pieces of music they are not intimately familiar with. Yet they are being asked to notice differences that may be subtle at best.