Why Do Cables Matter?

To me, all you need is low L, C, and R. I run Mogami W3104 bi-wire from my McIntosh MAC7200 to my Martin Logan Theos. We all know that a chain is only as strong as its' weakest link - so I am honestly confused by all this cable discussion. 

What kind of wiring goes from the transistor or tube to the amplifier speaker binding post inside the amplifier? It is usually plain old 16 ga or 14 ga copper. Then we are supposed to install 5 - 10' or so of wallet-emptying, pipe-sized pure CU or AG with "special configurations" to the speaker terminals?

What kind of wiring is inside the speaker from the terminals to the crossover, and from the crossover to the drivers? Usually plain old 16 ga or 14 ga copper.

So you have "weak links" inside the amplifier, and inside the speaker, so why bother with mega expensive cabling between the two? It doesn't make logical sense to me. It makes more sense to match the quality of your speaker wires with the existing wires in the signal path [inside the amplifier and inside the speaker].




When I first got into streaming seriously, I used a cheap but convenient USB cable from an Aurender N100H to my Bryston BDA-3 DAC. To make the install tidy, I later bought a Wireworld cable in the proper length to replace the cheap-o cable. I was surprised at the sonic difference, especially because I wasn't expecting a one.

The two cables were slightly different lengths, so I suppose it wasn't a truly scientific comparison. Oh well.



I have some questions for you, and some suggestions to make that might help your troubled journey.


You had mentioned earlier that you have personally heard Anthony Hopkins in direct conversation and know what his actual voice sounds like, as with musical instruments and musical actuality, having good access to such as a former recording engineer. Would this not be a good basis to evaluate how close to reality playback sounds to you? Or do you not trust your listening skills sufficiently to be able to determine so?


You had also written that for all the cabling, cheap or slightly more expensive you have bought, you have not actually tried many cables. I believe this is what you had written…”I never said I haven't tried different cables (only a few I'd have to say) I've spent 10s of thousands on cables, I never said my mind is made up and I won't demo cables, I'm just pointing out logical problems with the audiophile community as a whole.”


First, I am truly glad you haven’t made your mind up, having just started out on your audiophile journey : ) That said, don’t you think you could begin demoing different cables of vastly different makes and price points in your specific listening space, using and developing your listening skills while doing so, in order to gather more experience regarding what is truly out there?


Regarding your request for greater logic among audiophiles; I’m not sure if you will be able to find the exact form of logic you seek among the most experienced audiophiles, because so much of what they have discovered and know is precisely through experience, and not from graphs, numbers and in ways that are easy to factually explain. However, I have a little description of my own regarding cables and signals that might help.


You remarked earlier that few audiophiles realise that electricity doesn’t actually travel, or get conducted in the cable itself, but through the magnetic field around it. You had said…”Why do audiophiles think the electronic signal goes down the strands of the medium (the signal moves in a field on the outside of the conductors).”


As I am not an expert on the matter, please forgive me if what I suggest next seems completely implausible, but I believe the answer that may satisfy you logically, already lies in the knowledge you have about signals and electromagnetism.


You see, if the signal is indeed carried in the field outside the cable itself, does the only means (or in fact, the most vital means) of measuring that signal come from measurements taken off the electrical impulses from within the cable? Or should the measurements that mean the most actually come from the magnetic field that carries that signal? And, by ‘magnetic field’, I do not mean magnetic flux, or strength, which albeit important, do not most accurately describe what a three dimensional field that changes with time actually looks like, in all its complex beauty. The simplest magnetic field generated by a basic bar magnet gives subtle clue as to how profound and beautifully nuanced an actual signal of musical origin can be - how in God’s name does one measure that? Perhaps this is what is meant when audiophiles tells us that if the measurements don’t correlate with the sound, that we are measuring the wrong thing.


And if indeed this is the case, and the nuance and fragility of that magnetic field is the most vital and precious thing to protect, would the simple cable not be such an important part of its transmission? Regardless of how badly degraded a signal might become in its passage from source to speaker, wouldn’t any particular segment of cabling in the signal path be vital in preserving whatever is still intact?


I believe that while some measurements of electrical current do tell us something about the way a signal sounds, the most important clues actually lie embedded in the realm of the magnetic field, that ever changing, elusive, beautiful, unbelievable and all inclusive world that electromagnetism truly is. 


If nothing else, it helps me somewhat logically explain why some cables are just so amazing, they seem to unlock (in the prior words of those with experience) and transmit as close to a hundred percent of the original signal that began the audiophile journey.


I wish you well, and hope you begin to hear those electromagnetic differences. 


In friendship - kevin

This might be a good read for some, for others maybe not. @donavabdear working on a TV show (I do not own a TV so I have no idea what that show was or is) hardly makes an expert, EE, or Lab Tech. 

Should read this as it may turn a light on for you. 


Notwithstanding what you might see on TV shows, premium power cables are indeed used in the medical industry, with actual case studies supporting their use. Shunyata has a whole division devoted to it.