Interconnect Directionality

Have I lost my mind? I swear that I am hearing differences in the direction I hook up my interconnect cables between my preamp and power amp. These are custom built solid core silver cables with Eichmann bullet plugs. There is no shield so this is not a case where one end of the cable’s shield is grounded and the other isn’t. 

There are four ways ways to hook them up:
Right: Forward. Left: Forward. 
Right: Backward. Left: Backward
Right: Forward. Left: Backward
Right: Backward. Left: Forward. 

There is no difference in construction between forward and backward, but here are my observations:

When they are hooked up forward/backward there appears to be more airy-ness and what appears to be a slight phase difference. When hooked up forward/forward or backward/backward, the image seems more precise like they are more in phase. The difference between forward/forward and backward/backward is that one seems to push the soundstage back a little bit while the other brings it towards you more. 

What could possibly cause this? Does it have something to do with the way the wire is constructed and how the grains are made while drawn through a die? Am I imagining this? Have I completely lost my mind?
Here's a nice story about Pink Floyd and a recording studio they built. On a break, with some down time, they experimented with cable direction and heard the differences for themselves. It's a little more than halfway down the article.

All the best,
The one real difference I can think of is due to shielding. Shields should be connected at the source, not the destination, so I wonder if that's what you are hearing.

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From nonoise’s post:

”We underwent a testing program. We wanted to listen to every type of different connector we were going to use, every cable we were going to use and also pay attention to the physical aspects of the support of the all the equipment. All this stuff we had learned had basically come from the high-end hi-fi field, which we’d been trying out over the years and discovered a lot of that stuff made a difference. Some of it was just different; some of it was detrimental but some of it was an improvement. So we went though and we listened to a whole bunch of XLR connectors, we listened to 20 different audio cables, because I needed 23 kilometers of cable to make our own patch bay and rewire everything in the studio... all the outboard gear and the machinery. We listened to 20 different cables. We directionalized them all first, of course. Every cable sounds different in a different direction. It’s small, but it sounds different. And actually, the most amazing thing we discovered was when we listened to our technical earth cables, which we have going into copper rods in the riverbank. Our technical earth cables are just a heavy duty, high quality, regular, copper thick-sheathed cable. We’d been recommended to try this multi strand thinner cable, which had been woven like some of our audio cables.

These are cables for electric?

For earthing, woven to cross individual strands at 90 degrees to each other as much as possible to help eliminate RF etc. We listened to this, and we ran it straight out the door of the boat, over the bridge to the copper rods and we did an A-B and listened. Even the technical earth cable, you could clearly hear the difference from the original earth cable we were using. But even more surprisingly, we said for a laugh, let’s just turn the cable around the other way and see if we can hear any directional difference on the technical earth cable. And we couldn’t believe it, but we could.”
The cause for differences in sound are more due to placement / routing of cables than anything else. This is because the OP’s cables are unbalanced and unshielded, therefore very vulnerable to interference. Bottom line is, if you insist on using unshielded cables, make sure they are twisted pair, and preferably balanced with as high a source signal level as the receiving end will tolerate without overload. 

+1 on shielding.  That's the only thing that I'm certain I can hear are shielding differences, especially in my system with large toroidal transformers.
Directionality on a cable is determined by the copper/silver drawing in their manufacturing.
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investigation begins with what you know. It is reflected off the unknown thing. We ping it and get a radar ping back, of the shape of the unknown.

We speculate and investigate along those lines. Be clear enough with the self, honest enough with the self, so that if the hearing (science begins with observation) disagrees with the dogma of the backdrop, then the backdrop, the written wrong or the some part of the backdrop equation is incorrect.

The problem in this case, it is also tied to hearing comprehension.

Comparatively...Think of it as encompassing the concept of reading comprehension.

If you can’t comprehend what you are reading, and the subject is reading, re the observation of anomaly... then the idea of investigation goes out the window. A cornerstone of the investigation moves to being as gobbledygook to the investigator, thus rendering all applied motions to find clarity..useless.

Similarly or in the same moment, comes the properer and logical retreat: if your hearing is not up to snuff, then these investigations move to known dogma, and not into actual investigation.

People without the necessary hearing skills or without exposure to such clarified environments where such a thing can be heard...those people tend to get lost.

And the human mind falls back on what it knows. Nothing wrong with that, it’s worked for life on this planet, for millions of years.

But it does not work here.

For the science to go forward, the given person involved has to have the skills. They must have the hearing skills in order to move forward in the investigation. They must have the capacity to observe what the other investigators are observing, otherwise, no clarity..... and then comes the fallback to dogma, the fallback to the texts of yore.

And that’s not science. It the frailty of human limits.

It’s a personal physical limitation coming to life as conflict.

Conflict with others. Others who have the requisite hearing skills to get to the actual investigation and arrive at the correct answer. That is is anomalous, it is real, and it's not addressed by the known text and known works.

Therefore, logically, re science and investigation....if one does not have the hearing skills to hear it or has not tried to develop the correct methodologies to teach themselves to hear it, then that person is ignorant of the equation set required to be involved in the investigation..... and should.... by all logic and reason - remove themselves from the discussion.
I am skeptical of many tweaks, based on my and other's listening to changes in my and my friend's systems, 

There might be initial 'errors' of construction/cable path, rectified by simply messing about (like wiggling a phone charger cord), or natural cleaning of jacks/cable ends contacts occurring during the reverse process, or, not a criticism but the real possibility of the Emperor's New Clothes factor, based primarily on the desire for results from personal involvement.


Subjectivism: "Cables are directional, and pass audio better in one direction than the other."

excerpt "Audio signals are AC. Cables cannot be directional any more than 2 + 2 can equal 5. Anyone prepared to believe this nonsense won't be capable of designing amplifiers, so there seems no point in further comment."


certainly not the final word, but something to consider, especially the AC factor.

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Exactly! There are two wires involved in AC, + and - for each channel. When the signal goes toward the speaker on one wire, the signal (current and voltage) travels in the opposite direction on the other wire and vise versa. So both + and - wires/cables must be controlled for directionality, such that the “good” direction is toward the speaker for both + and - wires.
And how, pray tell, does the signal get from the amp to the speaker if it doesn't travel down the wire? Riddle me that one, Batman. I guess being "AC" it just magically appears wherever without having had to travel anywhere.

Simply amazing the extent some will go to remain in the dream state. Take the red pill. Wake up. The worst reality has in store for you has got to be better than suffering so much in ignorance- utter, complete and unremitting ignorance.

Go and listen! Please!
Assuming cables do have a direction to them, it makes sense that I observed a slight difference in phase or some type of imbalance when hooked up right: forward and left: backward. Assuming you’ve identified the cable directions, is there any difference between forward and backward if both channels are one or the other? Was my observation of the soundstage moving closer or further away based in reality or was it a hallucination?
Face it mkgus, you are beyond assuming. You heard the difference. You KNOW there is a difference.

Oh what the hell why bother anything you say bound to upset some special snowflake somewhere, who will only whine and then the mods will assuage the crybaby with another perfectly good post removed. 

Now if only the people offended by the constant mind numbingly repetitious "can I really trust my senses? Really?? Really, really?" posts would only complain. Those are the ones that should go. Really.
If the two interconnect cables are symmetrical there is no way find the correct directions for both ICs other than by listening to all 4 combinations. But - as I opined in my previous post - the “good direction” for both cables is toward the amp. 🔜 it’s the same idea with fuses - the correct installation is “good direction” toward the speakers. 🔜 You don’t care when the signal travels away from the speakers. That signal is not audible.
The flow of electrons for an audio signal is in both directions Geoff, from one terminal of the source to the other on the positive half cycle, then in the opposite direction for the negative half cycle. If you could optimize electron flow, favoring the positive half cycle over the negative half cycle, (or vice-versa), you would be distorting the signal. It’s never too late to wake up from the dream of “cable directionality“, and embrace reality. 
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The less evidence there is for a given position, the more bluster you will encounter among its defenders.  I have yet to see controlled tests that yield a strictly audible difference between heavy gauge cables, let alone directionality.  Here are two cites.  The second test suggests some differentiation between zip cord and higher quality cable, but look carefully what was preferred, and by whom, for a laugh.

We should keep our minds open to new evidence, but do not be cowed by "if you can't hear it get out of the pool" assertions, those are just obnoxious bluster (by a cable vendor, no less).  Extraordinary claims require evidence.  Ask for it.
The flow of electrons for an audio signal is in both directions Geoff, from one terminal of the source to the other on the positive half cycle, then in the opposite direction for the negative half cycle. If you could optimize electron flow, favoring the positive half cycle over the negative half cycle, (or vice-versa), you would be distorting the signal. It’s never too late to wake up from the dream of “cable directionality“, and embrace reality.

>>>>If you wish to embrace reality you should first consider that electrons don’t flow, unless you consider a velocity of one meter per hour flowing. What is distorting the signal has nothing to do with electrons, which are simply the charge carriers. The electrons certainly aren’t the signal. The current is. You have to look 👀 deeper, grasshopper.
@jea48 You can’t tell me these things. Now I’m going to have to spend a weekend making sure all my speaker cables are oriented properly so the damn piano stays put. 😀

What is the proper orientation for hand twisted cables? Should the signal and return run in the same direction or opposite each other? Please tell me someone has an easy way to test it. Perhaps by looking at the end of the copper where the cut was made?
Listen one way. Reverse and listen the other way. Leave it the way it sounds the best. Anything else?
How do you know the twisted pair are identical with respect to directionality? They could be opposite from each other. Ditto the strands of stranded cables. 😩
To test directionality of a given strand:

try to use a small full range single speaker.

your test set up should be simple and so that you can change the direction of the strand quickly, in seconds.

Ie, that you can swap the strand direction, without moving. speaker on a low stand, the terminals of the amplifier and speaker right in front of you. Listening at point blank range, for certain effects.

Full range, no crossover, is best as there is less gear involved, less terminations involved, less phase skewing of the acoustic signal, to get in the way of your attempt at discernment.

Hook up the ground strand from the amp and to the speaker. Don't worry about it's directionality, for the moment.

Take a single strand to be tested, and run it from the amplifier positive terminal, to the speaker positive terminal.
Listen for speed and extension of highs, 'plosives, attack, transient speed, etc.

Flip it, quickly. possibly just holding the wire to the terminals/posts, so it does not need to be unfastened to make the next quick flip.

The faster cleaner more open direction is the correct direction.  Mark the amplifier end with a marker, or what not, try not to use tape as that adds mass and damping.

Now, take that discerned strand that was found to be correct in orientation, and move it to being from the speaker to the amp on the negative pathway. Put the amplifier end that was marked, at the speaker negative terminal end. that is the orientation of the 'return' leg, for speaker wiring, IMO and IME. Interconnects can be different.

Then, take the prior untested ground run piece and perform that same test again, on the positive leg between the full range speaker and the amp.

This is harder to hear on stranded wire, especially the cheap stuff, as it is totally muddy and muddled from the get go. The effect is easiest to hear in solid core wire, single strand.
Wrong again, buddy boy. The electrons are only charge carriers. They are not (rpt not) the signal, the charge, I.e., current, itself. The charge itself is actually comprised of photons. That’s why the signal travels at near light-speed. The electrons move back and forth 🔛 at very slow speeds, as I already indicated, about one meter per hour. Thus, in fact, for AC circuits their net velocity is zero. 🤯
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“Was my observation of the soundstage moving closer or further away based in reality or was it a hallucination”

What you’re describing is usually the result of the polarity of the connection between the source and the speakers and can also vary to a lesser degree depending on the recording of the content being played, e.g., in phase or out of phase.
It appears the polarity of the “sound” is somehow affected by how the interconnects are either made or are connected. One easy experiment is switching the + and - connections on both speakers and see if you hear a similar results.
Yes, I know it’s confusing. To get to the bottom of things we must answer these questions,

1. What is the audio signal?
2. What role do electrons play?
3. What is current?
4. When a cable produces distortion, for example by being in the “wrong direction” or by being affected by external forces, what exactly is being distorted?
Geoffy, wake up, (rpt, wake up). Get on the reality train 🚂. Photon movement in opaque substances are as fictitious a concept as Donald Trump telling the truth. Free electrons from the outer shell that move from atom to atom make up the flow of electrical current. In alternating currents, this flow is in both directions, depending on the instantaneous polarity of applied potential difference. 
The biggest trick the devil ever played was getting people to believe he didn’t exist.
You guys are fun. Electrons and photons are what make the audio circuit go ‘round. Geoff is just being more technical. Electrons don’t bump into each other like billard balls. They are surrounded by self-generated electric fields (and magnetic fields when accelerating) which push on the electric (and magnetic) fields of other electrons. Photons are the charge carrier of the electric and magnetic fields. So it’s photons pushing on photons whose mere existence is dependent on the existence of the electrons and their associated electric (and magnetic) fields. The question is why the “path” set up by the electrons could possibly have a directionality to it.
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That's a very interesting strategy - answer a question by asking the same question.
So how does the wire directionality have an effect on the magnetic wave as it travels down the wire from the source to the load at near the speed of light?

>>>>One assumes you mean the electromagnetic wave, not the magnetic wave. 😛


jea48 wrote,

Now the signal energy is traveling down the wire from the source to the load at near the speed of light.

>>>>>Well, actually in the AC circuit you’re referring to the signal energy travels both ways, the signal direction is alternating along with the electron drift velocity direction on the + and - wires. Please keep in mind the “signal energy” is not the audio waveform - it’s the current and voltage. When I refer to the “audio signal” in wires it’s the current and voltage. You don’t get an audio waveform until the speakers generate it.

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jea48 - You might just as well have said the sky is blue. Those wiki links, as authoritative and scientific as they may be, don’t get us any closer to the answer to the question, why is wire direction audible? Quoting Ohm’s Law or Maxwell’s equations don’t win either side of the argument. Now, if you had stated, e=mc2 then I would more inclined to say that’s relevant.

Pop Quiz - what is the mass of a photon that is not at rest?
Photons have zero mass although they carry momentum. Or I should say they can transfer momentum. 
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You totally did not get my comments. I found no problems or errors with the links. That’s why I said quoting ANY scientific explanation is like saying the sky is blue. Just because a statement is true doesn’t necessarily mean it supports a given proposition. The reason I said e=mc2 helps explain my proposition regarding how the audio signal works is because that particular equations includes the term c which is the speed of light. We know for sure that photons are the only particle that can/must travel at the speed of light in a vacuum, so we can probably conclude current in wire or in free space is composed of photons. Now, I’m not saying that proves anything about directionality, but first things first. If you can find a scientific explanation or equation that indicates or provides evidence why directionality cannot be real I’m all ears.

Pop Quiz 2 (free tweak for first correct answer) - If it’s true that photons have zero mass why is it light cannot escape a black hole?
Because the gravitational pull of a black hole is so tremendous it actually bends space inward. Light Is merely following the curve of space into it. The escape velocity at the event horizon is faster than the speed of light, hence not even light escapes. For my prize, I'd like 10 of your acoustic resonators, please.
We have a winner!!

Sorry, thecarpathian, no resonators, but you have a choice of Morphic Message Labels sheet of 80 labels, Flying Saucers for Windows or New Dark Matter. PM choice and shipping info.