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what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Btyreman2013 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:54 pm

Hi there this my first post,

I build all my own cables and am pretty good with a soldering iron, I've been looking at van damme cable and have noticed there are two types, the 'blue' series studio grade speaker cable and then there's the UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi Interconnect & speaker series, my main concern is whether a neutrik mono jack with fit with the UP-LCOFC cable, also isn't it better to get the blue series because of the extra shielding?

I'm hoping someone can give some advice on the matter,

regards,

Ben.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:49 pm

Btyreman2013 wrote:Hi there this my first post,

I build all my own cables and am pretty good with a soldering iron, I've been looking at van damme cable and have noticed there are two types, the 'blue' series studio grade speaker cable and then there's the UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi Interconnect & speaker series, my main concern is whether a neutrik mono jack with fit with the UP-LCOFC cable, also isn't it better to get the blue series because of the extra shielding?

The blue stuff is fine. Your local electrical shop may have the same stuff cheaper, twin 2.5mm cable is a utility product. As a general rule, avoid anything tagged as an "interconnect" or "hi-fi". Why would speaker cable need a screen?
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:47 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
The blue stuff is fine. Your local electrical shop may have the same stuff cheaper, twin 2.5mm cable is a utility product. As a general rule, avoid anything tagged as an "interconnect" or "hi-fi". Why would speaker cable need a screen?

So you go for the "Studio" tagged cable with the screen you dont want? You could always put your biases away get get the best most appropriate cable for your set up. Could you tell us what system is this fitting in to? The Van Damme should be fine. Equally Sommer cable will have some suitable speaker cable too. Depending on your set up you could make your own, twisting a pair of wires and threading through a sheath. Here you can pick the sort of conductors and dielectric you want. I have done this with silver coated copper and teflon cable from Alpha, BICC do something similar. Currently these are only twisted and, living in line of site of the Crystal Palace transmitters, I have no interference problems.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Btyreman2013 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:29 am

My system is using the 'control room output' @300ohms of my mackie desk which is currently TRS going into a male XLR @10Kohm input, the monitors are KRK V6 series II. I use the desk to control the level.

I'm not interested in making my own cable using twisting e.t.c even if it's cheaper, so what do you think would it even improve my system by using the unbalanced blue speaker cable made by van damme?
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:48 am

Before this goes any further, some clarification of terms is needed...

'Speaker Cable' is generally reckoned to be unscreened two-core cable used to connect an amplifier's outputs to an unpowered speaker. Some will maintain that 'special' cables will improve the signal-flow in all sorts of ways whereas the majority here will state that simple two-core mains cable - provided it is adequately rated - will do the job fine.

What the O/P seems to be asking about is cables to take the line-level signal into his powered monitors. The cable referred to in the previous paragraph is not suitable for that. Many here will say that any decent 'two-core plus screen' cable such as Van Damme with connectors made by Neutrik, REAN, Switchcraft etc is what's required. They would also say that cables branded as 'hi-fi', 'digital quality' and other similar terms are merely marketing terms and make no discernible difference to the quality of the sound.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:14 am

+1 on what Mike has said. Assuming you are already using balanced interconnects, the cabling is so far from being the weakest link in your audio chain as to be utterly irrelevant. You'd be far better off investing in improving the room's acoustics if you want audible benefits.

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:46 am

I build all my own cables and am pretty good with a soldering iron,


I'm not interested in making my own cable using twisting e.t.c even if it's cheaper


It doesnt matter but it made me smile.

As the other posters say, you only need line level cable- balanced type connections. I like Klotz. It is easy to work with, it has a nice handle, is reasonably priced and it sounds good. You can get it from Studiospares and the like. Your Mackie's manual will have the appropriate wiring diagrams, if not a trawl on the net will help. I am not trying to teach you to suck eggs but you appeared unsure about the correct terms for various types of cable.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Javan Green » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:07 pm

I've not really had much experience with VDC's cable range but I've been extremely happy with my Mogami W3080 AES/EBU cable.

Partnered with some standard Neutrik NC3FXX / NC3MXX connectors they work a treat. Due to the lower capacitance of the AES/EBU cable more detail is retained throughout the higher frequencies and the overall stereo impression.

If you're feeling flush (like I was :smirk:) then you could even opt for some WBT Silver-Bearing Solder for improving the signal integrity.

All-in-all I think this relatively low-cost concoction delivers a solid audio cable perfect for monitoring purposes, the only downside being that you have to keep lengths pretty short. I've even sold a few on previously and I've not had any complaints.

Some may say that it's slightly exotic but seeing as a ready-made pair of 3M XLR cables made to the above spec costs around the same as a set of Vibropads then I think it's a viable upgrade worth trying.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Goddard » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:52 pm

If you're so flush, and really care about signal integrity, then splurge on some liquid helium! ;)
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:48 pm

Javan Green wrote:I've not really had much experience with VDC's cable range but I've been extremely happy with my Mogami W3080 AES/EBU cable.

Quite a few commercial studios are wired with the Belden equivalent (1800F I think) which means that the cables can be used for both analogue and digital signals.

Javan Green wrote:
Due to the lower capacitance of the AES/EBU cable more detail is retained throughout the higher frequencies and the overall stereo impression.

Hmmm - if you are really hearing a difference it says more about the poor quality of the gear sending the signal rather than the quality of the cable. I've had one particular domestic recorder with a high output impedance give similar problems but any competently engineered piece of gear won't be affected by the capacitance of any sensible cable.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Javan Green » Wed May 01, 2013 12:12 pm

If I was really freakin' flush, and perhaps a little sillier, then I might opt for Monster cables :D
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Javan Green » Wed May 01, 2013 12:21 pm

You're quite right, the equipment I've got is by no means 'pro' standard but nonetheless these cables have helped to ensure that I get the very best out of them.

Plus you'll generally find that most consumers of music tech gear surprisingly overlook the quality of their cables so it doesn't take too high a spec of cable to trump what most people already have. One of the folks I sold a pair of these AES/EBU cables to had a pair of Sonodyne SM100s, but had only wired them in with a naff set of Adam Hall no-frill cables so was able to hear an immediate improvement.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 01, 2013 12:52 pm

I'm glad I don't have his ears... :smirk:

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby The Elf » Wed May 01, 2013 3:02 pm

Clinton Baptiste

He now sells digital hi-fi cable, I'm told... :D
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 01, 2013 3:35 pm

Hands up if you can't hear the difference... :D

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Javan Green » Wed May 01, 2013 5:03 pm

It's nice to know that friendly advice just gets you shot down with mockery, I'll keep my lips sealed next time and just let the usual suspects do all the talking...

Perhaps I've sold them to myself a little too well and have convinced myself that I can hear a difference, but there are a good number of folk who stand by them (Bob Katz being one of them) so I'm still happy!

:D :bouncy: :D :bouncy: :D :bouncy: :D
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby ef37a » Wed May 01, 2013 6:44 pm

Javan Green wrote:It's nice to know that friendly advice just gets you shot down with mockery, I'll keep my lips sealed next time and just let the usual suspects do all the talking...

Perhaps I've sold them to myself a little too well and have convinced myself that I can hear a difference, but there are a good number of folk who stand by them (Bob Katz being one of them) so I'm still happy!


:D :bouncy: :D :bouncy: :D :bouncy: :D
Good! Be happy, no one here wishes you otherwise. But you WILL get shot at here when you ignore (or cannot be bothered to learn?) the basic principles of constant voltage signal transfer.

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 01, 2013 7:48 pm

Javan Green wrote:It's nice to know that friendly advice just gets you shot down with mockery

Mocked, maybe, but not shot down. This isn't a hifi forum. Many here are experienced and knowledgable engineers who understand the physics of electronics and interfacing.

There's nothing wrong with low capacitance cable for line level interconnects between analogue equipment. And it makes sense for many to use it routinely as it works for both analogue and digital connections -- I do myself a lot of the time.

But it is a fact that with properly designed equipment the difference in frequency and phase response between standard cable and low capacitance cable interconnects, while measurable, cannot be audible as the changes are way above the hearing range of humans.

Poorly designed equipment with high source impedances or poor rf screening might exhibit audible differences, but then you're hearing the equipment defects rather than the cable 'improvements'...

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Wed May 01, 2013 8:02 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Javan Green wrote:It's nice to know that friendly advice just gets you shot down with mockery

Mocked, maybe, but not shot down...

I'd rate the above as at least a mercy killing. :-)
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Thu May 02, 2013 5:51 pm

Javan Green wrote:It's nice to know that friendly advice just gets you shot down with mockery, I'll keep my lips sealed next time and just let the usual suspects do all the talking...

Perhaps I've sold them to myself a little too well and have convinced myself that I can hear a difference, but there are a good number of folk who stand by them (Bob Katz being one of them) so I'm still happy!

:D :bouncy: :D :bouncy: :D :bouncy: :D

I am happy to hear you can hear a difference. You have passed on your own experience and I appreciate that. One way for people to comment on your cable is to do what you did and compare them with the Adam Hall cables. You can measure with instruments or use your ears, I dont mind. I did notice that no one has offered to take/borrow/buy some of your cables and I am sure they will say why bother or something similar!!

It is important to help and correct people when they are factually wrong. It gets trickier when someone like yourself is experimenting, perhaps quoting from a website, and hearing a difference when I am sure you dont really mind why there is a difference just that there is a difference. People arent there hearing what you're hearing. Are you hearing what you think you are hearing? Probably and I am sure I could borrow to cables to check but I dont need or use that type so I won't.

Lots of other things will effect the sound of the cable; how well you have soldered, how good the join was before soldering, how clean your contacts are, the make up of the connector- metal wise eg silver or gold over what etc, dielectric, cable geometry, conductor purity etc etc. How much difference each of these make will depend on how far "off correct" they are and also how high resolution your system is. Which expands to getting suitable cable for your studio, spend in the right proportion, if you are spending £1000 per cable with £100 monitors- you get the picture? But running up a cable or two to experiment has a lot of benefits, you might find a cable you like more than others and you learn to solder. For those who say why bother thats up to you but if you mix in the box and only need to run up 2 cables for your monitors and its your time and hobby I say CRACK ON :bouncy: :bouncy:

(Dont forget Hugh gets his mains cables custom hand made, check an older thread about mains cables......tongue a little in my cheek.......)
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Thu May 02, 2013 6:42 pm

Doug Self has written extensively about Science and Subjectivism over many decades - Science and Subjectivism in Audio

From memory, when he tested cables for connecting power amplifiers to passive speakers, (may have been a blinded comparison), in Wireless World or E&WW, he found that the best rated cables were RG58/U (50ohm), or, three core 13Amp mains cable, with two of the cables joined together.

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Thu May 02, 2013 7:59 pm

Sorry, I should have said 'compared cables', not 'tested cables'.

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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Folderol » Thu May 02, 2013 8:23 pm

Long ago in a distant lan.. {oops sorry, got carried away} a company then called Radiospares used to sell 'instrument cable' that was quite thick, very flexible and remarkably cheap.

The sad news is that they eventually discovered it was being used for speaker cables and the price trebled overnight :frown:
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby DGL. » Thu May 02, 2013 9:22 pm

Folderol wrote:Long ago in a distant lan.. {oops sorry, got carried away} a company then called Radiospares used to sell 'instrument cable' that was quite thick, very flexible and remarkably cheap.

The sad news is that they eventually discovered it was being used for speaker cables and the price trebled overnight :frown:

Might actually have some of that stuff and might have used it for speakers. (grey shielded with string inside the cable).
School got a load of stuff off auction cheap from one of the local prisons, loads of cable, about 10 scopes, countless weller TCP's, variable PSU's, Chips, and every value (and type) of resistor and capacitor you could ever need!
Needed some cable for something and asked if I could have the reel (25m)
teacher kindly obliged and made some speaker cables with it (jacks also provided).
(Also managed to bag a Rapid variable psu and two weller tcp's!)
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Thu May 02, 2013 9:38 pm

Folderol wrote:Long ago in a distant lan.. {oops sorry, got carried away} a company then called Radiospares used to sell 'instrument cable' that was quite thick, very flexible and remarkably cheap.

The sad news is that they eventually discovered it was being used for speaker cables and the price trebled overnight :frown:

Their 56 strand was the first non bellwire proper cable I remember. That was before QED 79 strand (before Monster cable) and the terrible Monitor Audio Litz cable.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Javan Green » Sat May 04, 2013 11:31 am

Thanks for being merciful folks, it's all one big learning curve!
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat May 04, 2013 12:27 pm

fay spook wrote:
Lots of other things will effect the sound of the cable; how well you have soldered, how good the join was before soldering, how clean your contacts are, the make up of the connector- metal wise eg silver or gold over what etc, dielectric, cable geometry, conductor purity etc etc. How much difference each of these make will depend on how far "off correct" they are and also how high resolution your system is. Which expands to getting suitable cable for your studio, spend in the right proportion, if you are spending £1000 per cable with £100 monitors- you get the picture?

Why not come right out and affirm that "good enough is good enough", particularly with digital connections?
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby fay spook » Sat May 04, 2013 10:06 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
Why not come right out and affirm that "good enough is good enough", particularly with digital connections?


I think we needed quote that for our future Olympic stars.

The trouble is we all have a different definition of good enough. I really dont mind what cable people use, I like to remind people there is a choice and often a fairly inexpensive choice. You might have seen my suggestions elsewhere, it doesnt matter if you havent. I think it is good for people to try a range of options and considering demos (speakers in recent threads) are free it seems like a lost opportunity to try something off piste. Also I would hope we all like to see a broad spectrum of views here? I know I do.

If you are making the comment about digital cables in particular then you will get the 1s and 0s down almost any bits of wire so you could have reliability as your judge of good enough. But some people might want to get the best possible sound quality so for them "the best is good enough". Others might want the best value. The OP is asking about cable for critical listening so I struggle to see the harm in recommending £1.50/m cable over £1/m cable especially if its based on personal experience and only about 6m in total is required.

Where I work good enough is not the first option.
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat May 04, 2013 10:55 pm

fay spook wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:
Why not come right out and affirm that "good enough is good enough", particularly with digital connections?

I think we needed quote that for our future Olympic stars.

The trouble is we all have a different definition of good enough. I really dont mind what cable people use, I like to remind people there is a choice and often a fairly inexpensive choice. You might have seen my suggestions elsewhere, it doesnt matter if you havent. I think it is good for people to try a range of options and considering demos (speakers in recent threads) are free it seems like a lost opportunity to try something off piste. Also I would hope we all like to see a broad spectrum of views here? I know I do.

If you are making the comment about digital cables in particular then you will get the 1s and 0s down almost any bits of wire so you could have reliability as your judge of good enough. But some people might want to get the best possible sound quality so for them "the best is good enough". Others might want the best value. The OP is asking about cable for critical listening so I struggle to see the harm in recommending £1.50/m cable over £1/m cable especially if its based on personal experience and only about 6m in total is required.

Where I work good enough is not the first option.

So you're still convinced that the cheapest digital connection that transmits the 1s and 0s efficiently can be improved upon? How?
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Re: what cable is correct to use for critical listening/monitoring?

Postby Richie Royale » Sat May 04, 2013 10:59 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:

So you're still convinced that the cheapest digital connection that transmits the 1s and 0s efficiently can be improved upon? How?

Cleaner 1s as 0s don't exist. :headbang:
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