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speaker wire - differences

Old 04-26-03, 05:47 PM
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speaker wire - differences

Is there much difference in sound quality, between the 59.99 Monster Cable (100'), or the 29.99 (can't think of the brand), or the 9.99 (not sure of brand), that you can buy?

I'm building a house, and need about 400 feet or so, but I'm on a budget.

Thanks
Old 04-26-03, 06:04 PM
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The vast, vast majority of the time, no. You won't be able to tell the difference. Most speakers simply aren't subtle enough to really project any discernable change. Sure, if you had extremely high-end speakers, and hearing ability beyond the range of 99% of the population, you MIGHT be able to hear a difference. People who say otherwise are lying...I bet if you switched their over-priced Monster Cables with a reel of Radio Shack wire, without their knowledge, they would never notice. If you wanna stroke your ego, go for it, but otherwise....
Old 04-26-03, 08:24 PM
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Originally posted by Toka
People who say otherwise are lying.
Or they might legitimately have a different opinion than yours, believe it or not.

And Monster Cable is far from being expensive high-end wire. It is to speaker wire what Bose is to speakers.

That said, unless you have extremely good ears, extremely good speakers and high-end components, you probably don't need exotic speaker wire. Just stick with good heavy-gauge wire, and if you're running it inside of walls (and it sounds like you are) make sure you get stuff that is approved for such use.
Old 04-27-03, 12:04 PM
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Originally posted by Mr. Salty
Or they might legitimately have a different opinion than yours, believe it or not.

It isn't a matter of opinion, no more than if I said "people who say they can fly are lying". Do you know what a "placebo effect" is? I'll save you the time of looking it up: In short, if you hand someone a sugar pill and say "This will make you go to sleep", chances are they will get sleepy, with the pill having no effect whatsoever. Furthermore, if someone buys speaker wire with the mindset of "this will make everything sound better", guess what? It will, but not technically, at least not in any way that any human being could notice. Sure, an A/V tech with TRAINED ears, and the proper instruments, in the proper environment, could theoretically discern an improvement, but to Joe HT, with Monster/Kimber/whatever he overpaid for, its a waste of money.
Old 04-27-03, 03:13 PM
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You may want to ease off the patronizing tone Toka.

There is plenty of legitimate debate on this issue. There is no debate on whether or not people can fly.

I'll say it again, If you don't have high-end gear or a golden ear, and most of us don't, speaker wire will likely not make much difference, assuming you're using wire that's at least a decent gauge.

My only other piece of advice is, beware of anyone who is so sure his opinion is the only right one that he thinks anyone who disagrees with him is lying.
Old 04-27-03, 04:03 PM
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My personal opinion is brand name high end speaker wire makes no noticeable differance that I can discern. It'd be better to spend the same amount on a no name low (heavier) gauge wire then on a name brand higher gauge.
Old 04-27-03, 07:33 PM
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I had 12 gauge Radio Shack wire hooked to my 2 front speakers(s310II). I found a deal on OMC and replaced it. My 4es now runs cooler to the touch at the same volume levels. I can't honestly say there is a difference in sound quality that I hear,but I can feel some difference.
Old 04-27-03, 09:15 PM
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Like Salty has said - lets take it easy. This is a tough topic. Clearly there is some science to gage and resistance of the wire.

Beyond that all highend wire is closer to the Bose model (its not just Monster). None (not one) manufacture their own wire. There is way more BS then fact in the wire market.

There is no reason that adding the brand name to the wire makes it better and non-branded wire can be just as good.

The science is fixed and therefore so is the solution.

Toka makes a very good point. The difference wire makes is the smallest impact in your system. If someone switched your wire out on you without you knowing, most people would never notice.


Also going through double blind test tought me that even things you a sure about become very diffcult to tell when you dont know what you are listening to.

IMO, lets keep this nice

Last edited by bfrank; 04-29-03 at 09:21 AM.
Old 04-27-03, 09:32 PM
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my feeling is that anyone who says speaker cable doesnt make a difference probably has a bad sounding system. its probably not even bad stuff, it just doesnt sound as good as it could, or nearly as good as it SHOULD.

secondly, we got tired of people giving is this line (speaker cable doesnt make a difference), in our store, so we setup a demo. we took a yamaha 2-channel amp (~$299), 2 pairs of Def Tech BP6's ($299 each), and a cheap sony cd player (~$149). we wired the "A" speakers with the usual zip cord or whatever, and then wired the "B" speakers with monster cable (notice in my signature, i have NO monster, its definately NOT my favorite brand...).

we had people walking by when we were demoing the speakers commenting on how they were different speakers, they had no idea it was just different cables. they actually thought the salesperson was showing them the difference between 2 speakers. they, without knowing it, were hearing a difference of cable! and it was significant that you didnt need to be in the sweet spot, or even "critically listening".

monster is overpriced for the most part. but its consistant, and they stand behind their product. its pretty much the cheapest and easiest way to make a system sound better.

its relative though, for that modest system above, it worked wonders, and was well worth the investment (~$70), but would you add $20 in monster to an apex HTIB? NO. the rule of thumb typically is 15% of the speaker cost. this is a good rule, and you dont end up spending all that much money. on the system noted above, we put in $70 worth on $600 speakers, which is 11%, a good and modest match.

ultimately, buy both on a credit card, test them both out, and keep the one you like. if you cant afford one, dont buy it, get the best you CAN afford. its pretty darn simple.
Old 04-27-03, 11:26 PM
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The "wire as a % of speaker cost" "rule of thumb" is simply bogus. Ever hear of 'diminishing returns'? Or notice that speaker quality is not always quite correlated with price? (Will $900 wires *really* sound better than $100 ones on those $6k speakers??) Heck, how much improvement on $2k speakers do you expect from using $300 worth of wires as opposed to, say, $50 of 10-12 gauge OFC cable?

Some people just like to spend $$$ and say their system is better. But spending more $$$ on something that has diminishing returns (such as wire), even if you can afford it, means you have less $$$ left for other things that probably would have a greater effect (like, say, better speakers?).
Old 04-28-03, 06:39 AM
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I'm building a house, and need about 400 feet or so, but I'm on a budget
Sonic benefits aside if you are running through the walls you should have CL3 or inwall rated cable.
Old 04-28-03, 07:54 AM
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What do the differences in gauge mean?
Old 04-28-03, 08:10 AM
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Wire gauge is a number that refers to diameter of the wire. A lower number is a larger diameter wire with lower resistance to passing electricity. The wire has to bea able to carry the current safely (not an issue for speakers usually) without overheating and burning up. Also, the voltage drop down the wire should be small compared to the signal or power being transmitted down the length of a wire.

For speakers, the resistance of the two wires should be low compared to the nominal impedance of the speaker. This ratio is called damping ratio, and affects the low frequency response of the speaker, near it's resonance. Ideally, it should at least be less than 1/40, maybe even 1/100, of speaker nominal impedance. There are tables of resistance vs. wire gauge. A wire three wire gauges lower in number than another, ie larger in diameter, will have one half the resistance. The longer the run of wires (remeber to use twice the length, there's two wires) the lower wire gauge should be used. That simple measure is far more important than bable about "aligned copper", "oxygen free", etc.
Old 04-28-03, 11:01 AM
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you are actually correct in what you speculate. the rule of thumb is such because of diminishing return. spending more than 15% of the speaker cost on cable will be almost unnoticable, and just a waste of money.

and as far as the $6K speaker, my friend has some in the $10K range, and we played with speaker cable one day. certain ones sounded better, certain ones sounded worse. they ALL beat what he had (pretty standard 12 guage OFC). some were exotic and cost in the $800-$1000 range. some weren't as exotic and cost just a couple hundred. for some things, the cheap ones sounded better!

to defend my arguement, you said that instead of spending the money on cable, get new speakers... if you have $2k speakers, and you spent $300 in cable, you just made those speakers much better (if you got the right cable for them). getting BETTER speakers would have cost you $3K. you just saved $2,700.

there is another thing people have to keep in mind, certain things work better with other components. denon could be your favorite receiver, but maybe it doesnt sound as good with "X" speakers as the yamaha does... mixing and matching can make a system sound better for the SAME amount of money. some components just work better together. infinity's are bass heavy, and dont work well with yamaha, which has a but extra punch in it. pioneer elite works well though. matching cables is the exact same thing.

like in my friends really expensive system, most of the time, his speakers worked better with the cheaper cables. but i have heard lesser systems that sounded MUCH better with the more expensive cables. it's not about just WANTING to spend more money to get better sound (or THINKING you are getting better sound), its actually trying to just get better sound, regardless of cost, its a big difference. sometimes, you have to pay to get better sound. sometimes, there is a great deal out there.

and once again, i have yet to hear this: "i went out and got a few cables, tried them all out, and they all sounded identical."

instead we hear, "i don think there could be a difference, so i wont try it." i urge anyone to find Audioquest Type 4+, it's around $2.50/ft. its a BIT expensive when you compare it to home depot zip cord or something, but its SURELY not exotic or anything. make sure you can return it. this is probably the best budget cable out there, and it WILL make your speakers just sound better.

just try it! prove me wrong.

Originally posted by drmoze
The "wire as a % of speaker cost" "rule of thumb" is simply bogus. Ever hear of 'diminishing returns'? Or notice that speaker quality is not always quite correlated with price? (Will $900 wires *really* sound better than $100 ones on those $6k speakers??) Heck, how much improvement on $2k speakers do you expect from using $300 worth of wires as opposed to, say, $50 of 10-12 gauge OFC cable?

Some people just like to spend $$$ and say their system is better. But spending more $$$ on something that has diminishing returns (such as wire), even if you can afford it, means you have less $$$ left for other things that probably would have a greater effect (like, say, better speakers?).
Old 04-28-03, 12:06 PM
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Ok, copper cables - maybe there's a difference, maybe there isn't.

But what about optical cables? The ones that are commonly used to connect DVD players to A/V receivers? You see cheap ones for $5, and common Monster brands for $40 or more. Are there differences in these types of cables too?
Old 04-28-03, 02:05 PM
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But what about optical cables? The ones that are commonly used to connect DVD players to A/V receivers? You see cheap ones for $5, and common Monster brands for $40 or more. Are there differences in these types of cables too?
Only in the type of connector. I have seen some with poor connectors that do not hold tightly.
Old 04-28-03, 02:32 PM
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I have a Bose system wired with Monster cable. I mainly listen to Celine Dion on it

I wanna know more about this "placebo" thing! Do I push the sugar pills in the speaker binding posts?

FWIW I changed my speaker cables and noticed a difference. I don't have a high end system, just KEF and ARCAM.
Old 04-28-03, 06:21 PM
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On a different subject, anyone have any experience with wall-mounting a speaker? My rear-speakers are Bose 301 IV, and I wanted to hang them on the wall, but don't know how. The store in town, has wall mounts, but i don't have any clue how to hang them. Any have any luck/advice?

Thanks
Old 04-28-03, 08:33 PM
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Originally posted by tywebb1976
On a different subject, anyone have any experience with wall-mounting a speaker? My rear-speakers are Bose 301 IV, and I wanted to hang them on the wall, but don't know how. The store in town, has wall mounts, but i don't have any clue how to hang them. Any have any luck/advice?

Thanks
I usually buy some dry-wall anchors, drill a hole in the wall, and hammer the drywall anchors into the hole.

Then I screw the mounting bracket to the wall by screwing them into the anchors.

My next apartment won't let me screw with the drywall, so that's gonna be fun.
Old 04-29-03, 12:47 AM
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i would like to add that many of the higher end manufacturers DO make their own wire. they buy stock metals, then they melt and pull (and polish), their own wire.

Originally posted by bfrank
Like Salty has said - lets take it easy. This is a tough topic. Clearly there is some science to gage and resistance of the wire.

Beyond that all highend wire is closer to the Bose model then just Monster. None (not one) manufactures its own wire. The is way more BS then fact in the wire market.
Old 04-29-03, 09:57 AM
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Originally posted by cowanrg
i would like to add that many of the higher end manufacturers DO make their own wire. they buy stock metals, then they melt and pull (and polish), their own wire.
Name one.

Some add the connectors themselves but none pulls their own wire. You might know I work in the industry for one of the largest consumer electronic companies. I have been in wire factories and can insure you there is not one high end wire company that has revenue or sales quantity large enough to cover the cost. I also personally know the VP of sales for one of the best know high end wire brands (he has been with a few brands). So when I tell you this itís not based on speculation.

Also I would like to add that the A/B test you described has a few problems when you look at it in a scientific way. Just speaker position alone would discount your observations. Then add the very poor impedance of the DEF TECHís, which alone could explain your observed results.

Look we in the industry have a very difficult time getting accurate listening tests. The factors are much more complex than any of you could imagine. I make a living doing this and can tell you if you do a controlled blind test it would change your confidence in making any statement about absolutes in listening. I suggest if you are really interested to look into the writings of Dr. Floyd Toole, which have been presented to the AES (Acoustical Engineering Society). You would be shocked how hard it is to do a scientifically accurate listening test.

Again I am not disagreeing that wires can make a difference. Low impedance speakers like the Def Techís is a great example. The question is more about difference in brands. Again, there is fixed science controlling this topic. If the brand printed on the jacket makes you like it more then fine but the facts are the fact and can be measured.

Last edited by bfrank; 04-29-03 at 10:01 AM.
Old 04-29-03, 02:41 PM
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I have a subwoofer cable that is going from the sub to the sub preout on the amp, however, I am not getting much bass.


Is there any other ways to hook it up?

Please provide some pictures of cables. Thx.
Old 04-29-03, 04:07 PM
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Originally posted by jiggawhat
I have a subwoofer cable that is going from the sub to the sub preout on the amp, however, I am not getting much bass.


Is there any other ways to hook it up?

Please provide some pictures of cables. Thx.
You'll get more help if you post this as a separate topic, as it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.
Old 04-29-03, 06:32 PM
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that's what I was thinking
Old 04-29-03, 07:26 PM
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That A/B comparison between zip cable and Monster cable doesn't say anything about the gauge used. Were they the same gauge wire or was the cheap wire 16 AWG and the Monster 10 AWG or something?

Just curious.

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