Fixing your cable problems forever.

Gang, out of a deep desire for camaraderie I have deleted a discussion I had about cable issues because I did so ignorant of how the first three words fit into history. My apologies if anyone could have misconstrued or been offended by it. My ONLY point was to wish everyone well for the holidays and talk DIY.

Please continue discussing here.

As I was saying, making your own speakers and DIYing your own cables is a permanent fix to the cable merry go round.

Rats. There was some good info on that thread. 

Let me ask a couple of questions about cable making:

Do you start with raw, exposed copper or is there always some insulation on it to begin with?

I've soldered connectors for a different type of cable so I've got experience there.

So if it is a matter of adding connectors, additional insulation, shrink wrap, etc I could do that.

Again the question of cost. Is it possible to do it for less than what you'd otherwise pay for?
Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Some people like to make their IC's nearly naked. They use solid bare copper and wrap it in cotton sleeves. So long as your voltages are low, this is fine, but you won't get the same noise rejection.

It's quite a trend.
Here were my other sources related to speaker building:
Parts Express
Great Plains
So, I watched some videos about cable making. Most of it looks very simple. A lot of it just looks like typical copper speaker wire dressed up a bit. Anyway, that’s something I think I could do if I was so inclined.

Have also done a little research on DIY speaker making. Some of the kits I saw were quite expensive even without cabinet material. Others like Parts Express have fairly inexpensive kits.

But I still haven’t seen what I’d be interested in: pre-made crossovers matched to drivers plus hardware like posts and stuff along with cabinet plans. That’s all. I’ll keep looking. I’m sure that even if there isn’t a kit like that I could go to DIY forums and get recommendations for matched parts. The hardest part for me would be knowing which crossover for which drivers.

I think I would be most interested in making a small 3 way tower.
Have you checked out Meniscus? They have a broad range of kits, with/without cabinets and they include all the crossover components. It's really not that much soldering. :)

I really don't think that the kits are expensive at all compared to what a retail price might be, but if you are looking for a budget project then yeah, i can see Parts Express and Meniscus being better sources.

Although sometimes Madisound has some pretty cheap kits, like their single driver fostex mini monitors. :)
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"  Gang, out of a deep desire for camaraderie I have deleted a discussion"

and for once I gave input on this subject and asked some questions and now its deleted.

gee thanks.
Here are some links to my own cable making designs and fabrication techniques, complete with the wire/connectors that I use.

They may look a little "fussy" to construct, but after the first couple of pairs you get the hang of it.

The easiest and most affordable to construct are the speaker cables...

For me they provided the biggest bang for the buck.

There is also a bi-wire version built by another Agon member on the same page towards the end

The Interconnects are a little more fussy, but offers excellent performance...

There is also details (and pics) on a Balanced version.

The power cables requires a little more effort due to the heft of the wire being used, but provide a very black background while providing fast dynamics and better control of the speakers

There are some other DIY tips and tricks on the site and several reviews of KLE Innovations products, including their RCA and Banana connectors.

The cables have been built by other DIYer’s from USA, Canada, Austria, Bulgaria, China, who have found them to exceed their expectations.

The components they have been installed on range from those in my own frugal $11,000 system, to systems costing upwards of $65,000. One friend found his $80 DVD rose to new levels of performance by using the IC’s.

I have even had great success with my own mini system costing a mere $350 and my Bluesound Pulse Mini streamer/speaker upped it’s game with a Helix Power Cable that even impressed the guy in the audio store.

I have personally compared them to some of the commercially available high end cables from Cardas (IC;s and Speaker), Kimber(Balanced IC’s), Neotech (Power Cable), DH Labs (IC’s and Power), Signal Cables (Power), Furutech (Bulk wire), Stager (IC;s), Tara Labs (IC’s and speaker), and Van den Hul (IC’s and speaker) and found them to be superior in every respect.

One person even surprised me by replacing his Nordost cables with the Helix. Although I have not auditioned Nordost products on my own system I had heard them at an audio show and I was very impressed

The Helix Cables are very dynamic, spacious, focussed, neutral, offer a high level of clarity and extremely quiet. The power cables are also very good for tightening up the bass performance of Sub’s

The only real drawback is:
- They take up to 300 hours burn in to sound their best
- after 20-24 hours they can sound a little distorted and harsh, but after around 60 hours they start to come out of "the doldrums" and by 120 hours they are sounding very smooth.

If you have any questions just ask here - OR - there is an email link on my web site if you prefer

To address the question of Cost raised above...
- Speaker cables - around $220CDN for a 10 ft pair
- IC’s - around $250 CDN for a 1 meter pair
- Mains - around $180 CDN for a 5 ft cable

Since I had reviewed cables costing over $2000 CDN
- I think the Helix DIY cables are definitely in the "affordable" snack bracket

The materials I have selected are what I have found to offer exceptional performance, but I do encourage all DIYer’s to use the parts/materials of their choice. 

The Helix geometry addresses the internal noise aspects of a cables performance regardless of the materials used - e.g. I started making the IC’s using CAT5 and developed them form there.

Hope you find the links useful.- Steve

Lack - I removed it because the phrasing and timing could be misconstrued to be against a particular culture, especially during the holiday season.

No one asked me to. I just realized that the wording, which on it's face was perfectly sound, in a historical context could be less than welcoming.

No one should see a thread of mine and wonder if I might be committing an underhanded slur.

I diy’d my speakers from scratch and I’m very satisfied with how they turned out, so diy’ing my speaker cables was a natural step.  There’s a “White Lightning” design on the web that got a lot of attention some years ago- asymmetrical design (2 conductors +, one -).  I added to that design by using 14 AWG, wrapped in teflon, then shielded with carbon fiber braid and tinned copper braid over that.  Finished with TechFlex and some decent banana plugs.  In my system (NuForce STA-200, CEntrance dac, Luminous Audio PP, the results were stunning.  Maybe $200.00 invested.  I’d be hard pressed to go the mega-buck route on cables after this.
DIY anything is a permanent fix to that particular consumer Merri-go-round. Now, if only I had the courage to make my own MC cartridge ...
So I keep going back and forth in my head about making a set of speakers.

What stops me is two things:

1. I just don't see the exact kit for me in terms of price and configuration. I do not want cabinet components.

2. I get the feeling that if I spend $300 to make a set of small towers that a $200 used set of small towers will look and sound better.

Still, every time I come to the conclusion that this makes no sense my mind keeps going back to putting a set together. So now I'm thinking about putting my own components together based on some of the kits out there.

My single biggest question is the crossover. I know there is a lot or art and science in crossover design and selection. I'm just looking for a ballpark frequency cutoff for a small two-way tower with a 1" tweeter and 6-7" woofer. Is there such a number?
I made my power cables....Accrolink and top Furutech fabulous for me.  For those that are interested...look at the Doug Schroeder suggestion of doubling up....   I did and find them much better than any store bought items.
No purchase will ever give you the learning and self improvement building will.

So keep that in mind.

Next, retail markup on speaker drivers is 10:1 or more! So if you spend $200 on drivers,  you would have to sell the speakers for $2k to stay in business.

I agree. That’s why I get into this sort of thing. Some have heard me mention the cabin that I have....which is where these home-made speakers would go. I built it too. From a log cabin kit. Did everything but the foundation. Had help with electricity. Did all the plumbing myself.

From what I’ve researched this should not be a difficult project at all even if I build the crossovers myself. The woodwork is fairly simple. The challenge there would to be make a cabinet that looks really fine. I’m not inclined to go that route per se. In other words, I won’t be making deep lustrous piano black cabinet with multiple curves etc. Chances are the front will be a nice piece of wood with a basic satin finish. The sides will likely be hardwood faced plywood and likely be painted a dark color.

I’ve got more research to do. Even if I use cheap-ish drivers and crossovers I do want them to be properly matched.
Two of the best things you can do to diy your speakers is download WinIsd and Passive Crossover Designer.  They’re both free and an absolute necessity if you’re going to design something that will sound good.  WinIsd models the frequency response for a given driver and cabinet volume and PCD models frequency response for drivers and crossover slopes. There’s a learning curve, but absent these tools, you’re just putting speakers in a box.  Another option would be to buy a kit.  I found designing from scratch to be much more rewarding though.
In a word..NO. Not now, not ever.
I would never trust myself to make my own cables for goodness sake!! And SPEAKERS????
I like my free time, I like my sanity, and I prefer spending that extremely limited time listening to music on equipment designed by professionals with the appropriate experience.

Some of the speaker kits are designed by professionals. Meticulously in fact. And this is often reflected in the price of the kit. But as mentioned above, making your own speakers and cables is not just a way of acquiring gear. Some people, like myself, enjoy building stuff. The work is part of the pleasure. The reward is a well done project.

But I completely understand it isn't for everyone. And even as a project guy I'm putting the idea of building my own speakers and cables on hold until some other projects get completed and when I have more money for higher level speaker components.
I would never trust myself to make my own cables for goodness sake!! And SPEAKERS????

And this is exactly the problem. We rely so much on others that we have no idea what is bs and what is truth or what is worth a certain amount of money. We trade speakers and amps endlessly.

My goal in suggesting you make your own cables or speakers at least once in your life is not because I think you'll save money or stop buying speakers from a retail store but because you'll become an educated consumer.

The more educated consumers we have in this hobby, with first hand experiences, even when they disagree with mine, the better off audiophiles will be as a culture.

Of course, there are some for whom the real part of the hobby is spending money or feeling satisfaction in the accolades of others who also spend money as a hobby. Nothing here stops you all. Go right ahead.
I started from scratch after having sold all my stereo gear 20 years ago.  It took a good two years to really learn speaker design, and I’m still just scratching the surface. But, for me, the process was as enjoyable as the end product.  And honestly, there’s a certain thrill to comparing what one can build for a fraction of what one can spend on a commercial product.  It’s really changed my perspective on the cost of high end speakers.  As a diy-er, there’s labor and materials- that’s it.  For commercial speakers, all those ancillary costs figure in-  a $10,000 speaker might have $1000.00 in parts, yet there’s this tendency to ascribe a certain level of quality just because it’s a $10,000 speaker.
One major financial benefit to making your own speakers is having direct control over the sound balance.

It is much more effective to change a tweeter or midrange cap, or adjust the level or balance in the crossover than to play the amp/cable/power cord swap game.

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+1 erik_squires- with diy you can really tweak to get the best response with your equipment/room.  With my diy speakers that meant upgrading the caps from Clarity Cap PX to Mundorf Supremes.  They remain a work in progress; with a commercial product I’d certainly be more hesitant to dig into the guts of a crossover.