Change in speaker wire resulting in noticeable impact on sound - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

OK, I have done a lot of research on speaker wire, and read many explanations from people much more qualified/intelligent than myself (I.E., scientists) who basically say that "copper wire is copper wire", and that a 12 gauge Joe Blow brand is not going to sound any worse than the highly over-priced placebo-effect wire sold by the big mega cable company with the deceptive marketing.

That being said, I recently upgraded my receiver, and at the same time because I had been using mismatched speaker wire (2 different products by the big M, one for my mains and another for my center) I decided to invest in new speaker wire. I purchased a 100' spool of 12 gauge speaker wire by a company called Pyramid Audio, as it was highly rated (value/money) on the site where I purchased it.

After hooking up the speakers to the receiver I was replacing (hadn't set up the new receiver yet) and using identical lengths of the new cable for all speakers, my wife and I IMMEDIATELY noticed a difference in sound. This is no placebo effect. The sound now sounds "fuller" in a way, but not necessarily better. In some ways it sounds muddy in the mid-range, and overall it just seems more harsh sounding when I drive my speakers hard.

I replaced a "THX certified" speaker wire (the company's 'standard' wire which is double strand insulated 16 gauge wire) with Pyramid Audio's made-in-China 12 gauge wire. As I said, the sound seems fuller, but somewhat muddier. Also, I'm noticing a distinct buzzing sound through my speakers' tweeters. I have the speaker wire run on the floor, parallel to my A/V cables and as far away from my power cables as possible (limited space in my apartment).

Is it probable that the better, cleaner sound heard on the 16 gauge wire is a result of the difference in wire gauges, and perhaps due to the fact that the 16 gauge wire is better constructed and insulated? I noticed the 12 gauge wire looks more bronze colored, almost has a dirty look to it, where the 16 gauge exposed wire is bright and shiny. Are all speaker cables really created equal? Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 12:23 PM
 
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Unless you had listened to the new receiver with the previous wire, there is no rule of thumb to gauge. Now of course, if the old wire had nicks in the jacket, smaller gauge, yes there can be a difference in the fact that there is less resistance in the larger gauge, along with the jacket of the newer wire not having the capacitance problems of the other wire's jacket. Yes, jacket sheathing has a alot to do with quality, but in all reality, wire is just wire.

Depending on who really manufactured the new wire, and the old wire, there can be a difference in quality control of the raw and final products. This pdf from Belden explains it http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7...ns-Jackets.pdf
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post #3 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Gregzoll,

I think it's more likely the new wire has nicks in the jacket than the old. With the old wire, it was quite simple to peel the two leads apart, facilitating the attachment of banana plugs, the new wire has an extremely thick, hard rubbery jacket, and in order to get the two sides of the wire apart i literally had to slowly and very carefully cut the two wires apart with a razor blade: this took several attempts and a lot of wasted wire because I cut the jacket down to the bare wire on multiple attempts. Given the fact I'm hearing a buzzing through the tweeter, I'm wondering if there's not some exposed wire somewhere.

This brings me to my next question: what is the best way to test speaker wire to determine if it's damaged or broken? I've heard of using a multimeter, and indeed did just that, but I'm getting a lot of mixed advice on the net in terms of how to test and what different readings mean. Currently I am:

Touching the banana connectors on one end of the cable together to make a circuit, and on the other end, connecting the positive wire to the positive lead on my multimeter, and the negative speaker wire to the negative lead on the tester. I have the multimeter set to continuity mode (also tried it in the mode with the Ohms symbol) and the buzzer is going off, and giving me a reading of about .7 Ohms. One site I read said that a reading of less than 2 Ohms indicates a problem with the wire. Can anyone give me a definitive answer on this?

Thanks very much!
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post #4 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 12:43 PM
 
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You could use a multi-meter, but will need a nine volt battery when doing the test. As for leakage, you would need something like the Fluke 360 Leakage clamp. http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7...ation_note.pdf
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post #5 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 12:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Why do I need the battery? I was under the impression the battery was used to test polarity in the absence of a multimeter: something about brushing the negative over the battery after making a connection, and hearing a pop through speaker.

What is best way to test wire with a multimeter to check for continuity? Do i connect use the method previously described in my last post, and if so, should the result be as close to zero Ohms as possible, or should it be the 2-8 Ohms described in the how to guide I saw on eHow.com? I was under the impression that since there is no load being put through the cable, it should be as close to zero as possible, with the understanding that the multimeter itself, and the banana connectors, would generate some resistance, hence the .7 Ohms?
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post #6 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 12:53 PM
 
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You would use the battery on the wire, when checking for current leakage. Just nicking the jacket is not really going to do anything unless you have done it to both conductors, so that in a way it could possibly short out the speaker or amp.

Unless you have a high powered Sub, or long runs, 16gauge speaker wire will do fine.
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post #7 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Hi all,
I replaced a "THX certified" speaker wire (the company's 'standard' wire which is double strand insulated 16 gauge wire) with Pyramid Audio's made-in-China 12 gauge wire. As I said, the sound seems fuller, but somewhat muddier. Also, I'm noticing a distinct buzzing sound through my speakers' tweeters. I have the speaker wire run on the floor, parallel to my A/V cables and as far away from my power cables as possible (limited space in my apartment).

Is it probable that the better, cleaner sound heard on the 16 gauge wire is a result of the difference in wire gauges, and perhaps due to the fact that the 16 gauge wire is better constructed and insulated? I noticed the 12 gauge wire looks more bronze colored, almost has a dirty look to it, where the 16 gauge exposed wire is bright and shiny. Are all speaker cables really created equal? Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

The fact that 12 AWG wire has kind of a bronze look usually means it is old and the copper has changed color. Copper is copper should be shiny like a new penny when new. There should be no buzzing from any signal against a long run of speaker wire, that sounds like a grounding or loose interconnect audio cable on your AVR which could explain your change of sound IMHO.

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post #8 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAV View Post

The fact that 12 AWG wire has kind of a bronze look usually means it is old and the copper has changed color. Copper is copper should be shiny like a new penny when new. There should be no buzzing from any signal against a long run of speaker wire, that sounds like a grounding or loose interconnect audio cable on your AVR which could explain your change of sound IMHO.

...my thoughts as well ^^^

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post #9 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post

Unless you had listened to the new receiver with the previous wire, there is no rule of thumb to gauge. Now of course, if the old wire had nicks in the jacket, smaller gauge, yes there can be a difference in the fact that there is less resistance in the larger gauge, along with the jacket of the newer wire not having the capacitance problems of the other wire's jacket. Yes, jacket sheathing has a alot to do with quality, but in all reality, wire is just wire.

Depending on who really manufactured the new wire, and the old wire, there can be a difference in quality control of the raw and final products. This pdf from Belden explains it http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7...ns-Jackets.pdf

...what do you mean "there is no rule of thumb to gauge"? There is, in fact a rule of thumb to speaker wire gauge.

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post #10 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys,

Sounds like this speaker wire is just not up to par in terms of quality. Can you guys recommend a high quality alternative to Monster with good capacitance, good insulation etc? I'm looking to get high quality wire but don't want to pay a premium price for a brand name. I was under the impression there are a few sites/suppliers that are highly recommended on AVS. Any advice on this would be appreciated, and I don't mind using 16 gauge wire, as long as it's insulated well and I'm not getting buzzing, distortion, etc.

I'm going to borrow the receiver I replaced (gave it to my dad) and plug the speakers back in to that bad boy. If no buzzing it looks like it will be time to call Onkyo for a warranty repair/replacement.

Thanks again.
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post #11 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post

...what do you mean "there is no rule of thumb to gauge"? There is, in fact a rule of thumb to speaker wire gauge.

There is no true rule of thumb to speaker gauge. A lot of people over do it, when choosing the wrong gauge wire for their speakers, especially in the quality of wire.
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post #12 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Thanks guys,

Sounds like this speaker wire is just not up to par in terms of quality. Can you guys recommend a high quality alternative to Monster with good capacitance, good insulation etc? I'm looking to get high quality wire but don't want to pay a premium price for a brand name. I was under the impression there are a few sites/suppliers that are highly recommended on AVS. Any advice on this would be appreciated, and I don't mind using 16 gauge wire, as long as it's insulated well and I'm not getting buzzing, distortion, etc.

I'm going to borrow the receiver I replaced (gave it to my dad) and plug the speakers back in to that bad boy. If no buzzing it looks like it will be time to call Onkyo for a warranty repair/replacement.

Thanks again.

I just used CerroWire 14 AWG speaker wire from Home depot, fairly stiff tough PVC coating to it. Its UL listed, made in the USA.

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post #13 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Thanks guys,

Sounds like this speaker wire is just not up to par in terms of quality. Can you guys recommend a high quality alternative to Monster with good capacitance, good insulation etc? I'm looking to get high quality wire but don't want to pay a premium price for a brand name. I was under the impression there are a few sites/suppliers that are highly recommended on AVS. Any advice on this would be appreciated, and I don't mind using 16 gauge wire, as long as it's insulated well and I'm not getting buzzing, distortion, etc.

I'm going to borrow the receiver I replaced (gave it to my dad) and plug the speakers back in to that bad boy. If no buzzing it looks like it will be time to call Onkyo for a warranty repair/replacement.

Thanks again.

High quality to Monster, you are wasting your money. Just get a good quality wire that fits your pocket book. I have used off the shelf 16awg 1/4" pro cables from Radio Shack, and 16awg zip cord with no change in sound quality. I personally like the black jacketed over the clear zipcord, because it is a lot nicer looking and more professional.

If you want to order from Monoprice http://www.monoprice.com/products/su...02&cp_id=10239 Otherwise or go to your local electrical supply house and see if they have Belden Speaker wire in stock.
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post #14 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post


Is it probable that the better, cleaner sound heard on the 16 gauge wire is a result of the difference in wire gauges, and perhaps due to the fact that the 16 gauge wire is better constructed and insulated?

Three factors influence speaker cable results: resistance, capacitance and inductance. Resistance is determined by gauge and length, and if it's adequate so that insertion loss is inaudible a larger gauge won't be better. There's no such thing as more inaudible.
Capacitance and inductance are governed by the thickness and quality of the insulation. Basically it's either good or defectively bad, and price is not an indicator of quality.
All of the other mystical properties attributed to speaker wire are psuedo-scientific hogwash.

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The Laws of Physics aren't swayed by opinion.
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post #15 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 02:23 PM
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Change in sound more likely just due to the changes made somehow. You may have a receiver problem, you may something else going on. As far as speaker wire, this is always a good read http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm#connect

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post #16 of 26 Old 03-03-2012, 03:21 PM
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Cheap speaker wire like pyramid, etc is not full copper but copper coated. That is probably why the difference in color. But honestly wire is wire is wire unless you're running long runs or really high power like said. That being said you changed receivers at the same time so I would more than bet settings in your new receiver are off or it's not as efficent as your old one.
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post #17 of 26 Old 03-04-2012, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the advice.

I am going to borrow the receiver I gave to my father and hook the speakers up to that unit again, and see if I still get the buzzing. Is there a good method to put an extremely low level signal through the amp into the speakers to make it easier to hear things like hum or buzzing resulting from grounding problems etc?

Also, if there indeed are nicks or openings in the speaker jacket, could this noticeably affect sound quality, and if so, in what ways?

Just a final note, not sure if the additional info would provide any potential information as to cause of sound issues potentially resulting from power handling or efficiency, but the receiver I replaced is a Harmon Kardon AVR-235 and the replacement, which I probably already mentioned, is an Onkyo TX-NR709.
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post #18 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 01:37 PM
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Am I missing something here? You said you got a new receiver, then hooked up the new wire, but hadn't played the new reciever with the old wire. So what makes you think the difference in sound is the wire, and not the reciever?
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post #19 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davdev View Post

Am I missing something here? You said you got a new receiver, then hooked up the new wire, but hadn't played the new reciever with the old wire. So what makes you think the difference in sound is the wire, and not the reciever?

He connected his new wire to his old receiver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

After hooking up the speakers to the receiver I was replacing (hadn't set up the new receiver yet) and using identical lengths of the new cable for all speakers, my wife and I IMMEDIATELY noticed a difference in sound.


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post #20 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 01:47 PM - Thread Starter
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I did not test the new receiver with the old monster 16 gauge wire, because I cut the new 12 gauge pyramid audio wire to length and attached new banana connectors to said wire BEFORE installing the new receiver. So the change in sound occurred with new pyramid audio wire and original receiver. That same change in sound seemed to carry over to the new receiver, when I set it up the next day and attached the pyramid audio wire to the new receiver.
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post #21 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 01:57 PM
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Sound advice http://sonido.uchile.cl/articulos/te...tliesaudio.pdf, see #1 "The Cable Lie."


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post #22 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Regarding the Monoprice cables... wire seems inexpensive enough, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this wire in regards to the ease of getting the two halves apart? I'm referring to separating the two halves of the jacket to accommodate the spacing of the terminals on my speakers/receiver, and to be able to attach banana plugs.

My current wire has very hard insulation, it's not softer and more rubbery like the monster cable I had previously where I could easily peel the two sides of the wire apart: this Pyramid Audio wire requires me to literally have to cut down the middle with a razor blade, between the two wires, in order to split the jacket, all the while trying my damnedest not to nick or slice into the insulation (which happened several times).

Monoprice copper wire might be the same as Home Depot copper wire, but simple things like easy to separate jackets are just basic features I'm willing to pay a bit more for because it makes my life easier when hooking this all up.
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post #23 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Regarding the Monoprice cables... wire seems inexpensive enough, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this wire in regards to the ease of getting the two halves apart? I'm referring to separating the two halves of the jacket to accommodate the spacing of the terminals on my speakers/receiver, and to be able to attach banana plugs.

My current wire has very hard insulation, it's not softer and more rubbery like the monster cable I had previously where I could easily peel the two sides of the wire apart: this Pyramid Audio wire requires me to literally have to cut down the middle with a razor blade, between the two wires, in order to split the jacket, all the while trying my damnedest not to nick or slice into the insulation (which happened several times).

Monoprice copper wire might be the same as Home Depot copper wire, but simple things like easy to separate jackets are just basic features I'm willing to pay a bit more for because it makes my life easier when hooking this all up.

With all the various types of speaker cable I've bought over the years, I've had one or two that had an extremely stiff connection between the wires like yours, but find that giving it a good centered short slit with an exacto/razor blade then pulling it apart by hand works best, even with the stiffest paired wires. Monoprice isn't always best, I got my last 250ft reel of 14g on sale at Amazon for 33 shipped.

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post #24 of 26 Old 03-05-2012, 06:47 PM
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[quote=Curmudgeon76;21738941]Regarding the Monoprice cables... wire seems inexpensive enough, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this wire in regards to the ease of getting the two halves apart? I'm referring to separating the two halves of the jacket to accommodate the spacing of the terminals on my speakers/receiver, and to be able to attach banana plugs.

My current wire has very hard insulation, it's not softer and more rubbery like the monster cable I had previously where I could easily peel the two sides of the wire apart: this Pyramid Audio wire requires me to literally have to cut down the middle with a razor blade, between the two wires, in order to split the jacket, all the while trying my damnedest not to nick or slice into the insulation (which happened several times).

Monoprice copper wire might be the same as Home Depot copper wire, but simple things like easy to separate jackets are just basic features I'm willing to pay a bit more for because it makes my life easier when hooking this all up.[/QUOTE

I bought a 100ft roll from Monoprice when I bought my new Integra DTR 40.2 last year. Works great and no problems. I also bought Banana Plugs as well for all my connections.

Jeff
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post #25 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon76 View Post

Regarding the Monoprice cables... wire seems inexpensive enough,
but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with this wire in regards to the
ease of getting the two halves apart?

I've found it really easy to pull the the two conductors of their 14GA wire apart
using just my fingers.
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post #26 of 26 Old 03-06-2012, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamilcar Barca View Post


I've found it really easy to pull the the two conductors of their 14GA wire apart
using just my fingers.

Same

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

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