Cables and wires in Hi-Fi and home theater


Created on 26.11.2007 19:58.

Updated 05.06.2020 22:10.

Author: Vladimir Sidorov.

For many years, the industry around hi-fi and hi-end machinery, with a tenacity worthy of a better application, instills in us the idea of ​​great importance speaker cables to achieve high quality sound path.

Unfortunately, the greatest contribution to the propaganda of such quackery is made by “almost independent” audio magazines, which are often the only source of information for the vast majority of amateurs. It is not difficult to understand the innermost desires of publishers and journalists, because the main source of their existence is the placement of commercial advertisements of manufacturers and distributors of the monitored products.

Judging by the prices, the production of all kinds speaker cables is a much more profitable gesheft than honest activity in the field of development and production of sound reproduction equipment.

It is curious that the manufacturers themselves (according to various sources, the disputes have been going on for about 30 years) cannot explain at any convincing physical level the effect of the properties of household acoustic cables on the quality of a full-fledged audio path. Here, apparently, we are dealing with another legend of the XX and XXI centuries, lovingly picked up by the broad masses of audiophiles, not burdened with knowledge at the level of school physics (a lot of knowledge – a lot of sorrow).

Of course, such a public does not really want to voluntarily part with their convictions (or do they feel sorry for the wasted money?), So a number of rather offensive, but actually ridiculous explanations were invented for a long time, suitable only for use in society by similar audiophiles. By the way, the true level of this or that popular publication can be judged by the number of published tests of “laces”.

For example, we will give a number of the most odious postulates that have firmly taken root in the audio world:

  • “good” acoustic cable able to improve the sound of the path, or at least not to worsen, which is inevitable when using the “bad” speaker cable;
  • the more expensive the cable, the better it “sounds”;
  • the best cable is the one that is currently being promoted most intensively on the market or attracts the eye with a large amount of gold plating on the connectors;
  • choosing acoustic cable from a bunch of similar ones, you can find the best sounding;
  • speaker cable quality depends on the speed of propagation of a signal in it in comparison with the speed of light in a vacuum;
  • the speaker cables included in the unit must be discarded immediately and replaced with new ones, but at a price of at least 10% of the cost of the equipment;
  • Silver or thin silver-plated speaker cables sound “loud”, while most copper cables sound “normal” and sometimes “excellent”;
  • shielded cables have too much capacity, so they are useless, etc.

And here is a set of home-grown “arguments” intended for the mass murder of a few opponents laces:

  • each person from birth is either endowed with the ability to “hear the path” or not (a very convenient idea for amateurs and obscurantists. I do not distinguish a volt from a kilogram, but I “hear”, which means it is professionally suitable for compiling tests written on the “audiofen” invented by him.);
  • if you do not hear the difference between “sound” cables for $ 20 and $ 500, then you are a goat (no comments required);
  • influence speaker cables begins to affect tracts for $ 5000 and more. Options: 50,000, 100,000, and so on. (It is a completely liberal idea – if you do not have that kind of money, then you don’t have to poke your pig’s snout into our Kalash row);
  • if you do not feel the appearance of “emotions” when replacing elements of the tract, including speaker cables to more “musical” ones, even when you personally listen to an unpleasant piece of music, then you are a goat (reminds of an old anecdote: “Vasily Ivanovich, do you feel your finger in your butt?”);
  • we bet on a box (options: a carriage, a train) of vodka that I will distinguish by ear the bad acoustic cable from my good. (It is calculated that you will regret the money for a carload of vodka, but the enemy will never give it back if he loses. In fact, he will not distinguish anything if the experiment is set up statistically correctly, which happened repeatedly);
  • influence speaker cables due to various physical effects that are not related to the essence of the matter (temperature changes, wave properties speaker cables, skin effect, extraneous electromagnetic fields, etc.) (Obviously skipped physics classes in high school);
  • there are hitherto unknown physical phenomena and laws that go beyond human knowledge, which determine the dependence of the quality of the tract on the quality cables… (“Wait, Vasya, the truth is somewhere nearby,” just like Scully’s special agent, isn’t it?);
  • and our cables are used in aerospace engineering (Complete nonsense);
  • in fact, it is best to have “played” and “warmed up” cables (those. wires through which currents have flowed for many years. They are found mainly in trash heaps.);
  • an advertisement from one of the paramedics of sour cabbage soup (unfortunately, my talented colleague at the institute): “I sell one and a half meter network cablesthat seriously improve the sound quality “(What can you not blurt out for an extra hundred bucks in our difficult time?).

Probably every amateur interested in hi-fi and hi-end has heard similar incantations. But enough of unfounded mockery of poor apologists laces (these do not include professionals who deliberately cheat consumers in the name of the golden calf).

Now to the point. Everything said below will be based on the electroacoustics axiom: “You cannot hear what cannot be measured”… Of course, no one denies the importance of expert assessments, but over the past fifteen years, hardly any reputable scientific organization has assembled a group of experts consisting of professional sound engineers, acoustic engineers and untrained listeners, and then carried out statistical processing of the results in accordance with recognized international standards.

This is an expensive and long occupation, especially since for small and large needs of the consumer there are boys (for some reason there are not enough girls) in popular magazines, who are brought a bunch of equipment from salons, and then these boys listen to it with a clever look, after which they squeeze test materials written in indigestible English in Russian transcription. The most interesting thing is that the enthusiastic verbal assessments of each model do not correspond at all to the number of stars affixed.

Moreover, almost all magazines have now acquired “measuring laboratories”, collected in an office building, and not in a semi-free acoustic field, that is, in a damped chamber. Most often, such laboratories are a personal computer with a measuring board to which a microphone is connected. That’s all.

Such techniques are considered by their authors to be the closest to the conditions of real placement of acoustics in a living room. (And we …