I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Speaker Cable

I have been doing a lot of reading (online, magazines) over the past year on reviews of different audio components, including speaker cable. What I have found is, if you want to believe something, you can likely find someone out there who has written it. Not great, when you're trying to make an informed decision. What makes me laugh about it all, in an unfortunate way, are so many reviews that confuse and obfuscate terms that are borrowed both from musical and technical lexicons. You'll see things written like harmonic cohesion or more realistic soundstage. I no doubt know it is difficult to describe what you hear with words, but some of what is written boils down to nonsense. Or that a certain cable is better for one type of music (i.e., rock, classical, jazz, etc.). That's not to say that some of these folks like what they are listening to. What makes choosing components in a stereo more difficult is the variety of vintages, brands, and types of configurations you can create and place together. No doubt, we'd call this synergy between the components. Personally, I am not even sure if "synergy" exists. It seems to make sense, but the word itself always makes me suspicious. This weekend I replaced my speaker cable. I have been on an upgrade path for my stereo since I first acquired my first hi-fi system in 1996. This system still does exist (everything but the cables) connected today to my computer. However, it was replaced by larger, costlier equipment in my main listening room. This weekend, I retired my first set of speaker wire. At the time it was sold to me, the dealer told me it would be a "good match" for my bookshelf speakers and integrated amplifier. Today, I am using a preamplifier with two monobloc amplifiers. Somewhere, I bought into the notion that "separates" are better, and what this means is that the signal is mushed side by side in stereo in the computer (where all my music is stored), is separated coming out of the digital to analogue converter (DAC), never to be together again, until it's born as sound. With my new cables , the sound is separated again, in theory, as I am using a bi-wiring option on my speakers. The treble is taken up in one dedicated pair of wires, while the bass is taken up on a separate pair. You read that the quality of speaker cable will affect the sound. Now, I will admit, my 1996 purchase was not cheap. I figured I could pay $20-30 for some cable back then. When I paid what I did, I figured this was pretty good stuff! Today, not accounting for inflation, I've spent 10 times the amount on the new wires. I feared that I wouldn't hear a difference, and that what some of what I'd read might be true: "the cable doesn't really make a difference." In other words, were those folks who simply went out and got a big spool of 16-gauge wire at the electronics store really smart? Of course, I'm still getting used to the sound. But I figure it this way. The sound has to travel along a signal path from the computer to the speakers. The signal length inside the equipment is relatively short, so the sound spends an insignificant amount of time traveling those wires compared to what they travel along the speaker wire. Interconnects are like 3 feet. The speaker cable is 10 feet. That more than 3 times the length. If anything is "coloring" the sound, I wager, it's the wire between the different components. The sound with the new wires is definitely different--no reservations! Several tracks, in fact, sound like they're from entirely new recordings. I'm searching for words to describe some of the differences, but my mind is choosing some of the same audiophile babble I've been reading: soundstage, air, transparency, etc. Off the top of my head, this is what I've noticed: * more detail * more bass * different color I'm not equipped to speak the techno-babble. But I am to speak for the music-babble. Many recordings now sound more musical, where as what I am saying is, I'm hearing more of the music. Perhaps it is dynamics, I am not sure. But the sound is even more detailed than before, and I feel as if this has been a good investment, because I'm getting more out of the other pieces of the hi-fi puzzle that I've invested in. As a former practicing musician, the details matter. Any investment to reveal more details is an investment in better enjoyment of music.

Beethoven String Trios, Thomas Tallis

Marini: Passacaglio