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my contractor run some audioquest type 4 speaker wires through my walls. i just discovered that, on one of the wires, the arrow printed on the wire sleeve runs the wrong way. i called audioquest and they claim that directionality is important and is makes an audible difference.


does any one have experience with the effect of directionality in speaker wires? in principle i can pull the wire out and rethread it the other way, but it'll be a fair amount of work. does it really make much difference?


since the wire is a continuous conductor, where does the directionality come from? perhaps i can see that if wire that has been used long in one direction, then it might sound a bit different when reversed, but in my situation all speaker wire was brand new.


any thoughts would be appreciated.


LJG
 

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The electrons don't care which way the arrow points.
 

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I have some Audioquest directional interconnects and I couldn't tell the difference when I put them in the wrong way around one time (forgot to check). You probably wouldn't notice a difference with your speaker cables either. Only problem is that now that you "know" one of them is the wrong way around, it's gonna bug you :D.


Some people just have the ear but I know I don't. My brother is a bass player and spends a fair amount of time at music stores. Eric Johnson (great guitarist) came in to audition some amps. He was playing through one of them and made a bit of a grimace like something was wrong. He took out the fuse, turned it around, put it back in and after turning it back on was pleased with the improvement in sound.


I'm just trying to make the point that if you "heard" that the cable was the wrong way around, you wouldn't hesitate to correct the problem.



-Mike...
 

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I had a post in here. Did it get deleted?

If so, can the moderator please tell me why?
 

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There is an electrically sound reason for directionality in cables, but it has to do with the shield of the cable, not the conductor. In most shielded cables the shield is attached to the connectors at both ends. In directional cables the shield is connected only at one end, which should be plugged into the source component (DVD/CD player, etc). This will help prevent any noise on the ground plane of the source component from getting into the amplifier or receiver. It also reduces the risk of ground loops. Whether or not this will have any effect on what you hear is debatable and probably depends on your specific system.


FWIW, this only applies to shielded cables. I'm not familar with the specific speaker wire you are referring to, but if it is unshielded I would ask the salesman for some of that **** he has been smoking. ;)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dsegelstein
The electrons don't care which way the arrow points.
The only case in which I've seen that directionality matters, is in the case of pseudo-balanced interconnects, where the twisted pair carries the signal, and the shield is only connected at one end of the cable. In this case, you want to know at which end the shield is connected, usually you connect this end to the load. For all other cables, I agree with dsegelstein, I've seen no valid explanation for directionality, nor have I heard any differences (I'm excluding from discussion bizarre cables which have an impedance matching network, usually a large "box" at one end, in which case all bets are off).


Seth
 

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Threads now merged.
 

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This is like Deja Vu all over again. My contractor did the same exact thing. I don't know if it would have made any difference, but I made them re-pull the cables. Like it was mentioned; I would have known they were wrong, and would have heard the difference, if there was one or not.
 

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If you did a little research into this subject you'd find that a speaker cable cannot be directional. They are probably trying to play into the legend of the copper having grain structures that allow current to flow better with the grain. There is no scientific support for these claims - and there has been a LOT of research on wires over the past 50 years.


The claim for directionality is just marketing hype. Makes buyers feel they have purchased a more finely tuned audiophile grade cable. And since there are reasons why an interconnect can be directional, as others have noted, the speaker cable guys decided that it sounded good for their cables to be directional too.


Tom B.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike_decock
Eric Johnson (great guitarist) came in to audition some amps. He was playing through one of them and made a bit of a grimace like something was wrong. He took out the fuse, turned it around, put it back in and after turning it back on was pleased with the improvement in sound.
:rolleyes: That sounds like the scene in Spinal Tap where Nigel Tufnell is using the violin to rub on his guitar strings - he looks puzzled, tweaks the violin string tension and then saws away with a smile on his face :D .
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike_decock

He took out the fuse, turned it around, put it back in and after turning it back on was pleased with the improvement in sound.
Oh stop, please! :rolleyes: He was just effing with everyone there. I just have to get in on this. Audiophile grade directional fuses. $50 each (sold only in pairs). $20 S&H (triple packed). Complete with instructions. Refundable core charge is $25 (you pay return shipping). Total charge: $95. Knowing that people will buy anything: priceless.
 

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I don't know whether or not he was "effing" with everyone there. I know Eric Johnson has an amazing sense of tonality. Watch the G3 DVD. I don't know if anyone else can play a slide guitar with such accuracy of pitch. Just because I can't hear the difference, doesn't mean that the difference cannot be heard. Even if it is just "psychological" or a "perceived" improvement, it's STILL an improvement. Isn't the point of all this to be happier with your sound?


-Mike...
 

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Mike, I should have annotated my post better. It was meant in good humor. Artists are notorious for gags, and this one was a bute :D I padded the thought with a bit of business humor (I thought that the "core charge" was pretty creative ;)).

Peace.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by mike_decock
... Eric Johnson has an amazing sense of tonality...

Just because I can't hear the difference, doesn't mean that the difference cannot be heard. Even if it is just "psychological" or a "perceived" improvement, it's STILL an improvement. Isn't the point of all this to be happier with your sound?...
This latter point is quite true. The whole idea, since this is a hobby for most of us after all, is to be happy with our systems. I strongly suspect that this "perceived" improvement is the origin of an enormous amount of spending on the part of "audiophiles."


The problem arises when someone tries to associate a clearly spurious physical phenomenon with the perceived improvement. The laws of physics are not just suggestions. In this case, for example, keep in mind that this is not DC current, so directionality is irrelevant with regard to the current itself. Shielding, as has been mentioned, is not an issue with speaker wire. My belief is that any perceived improvements are indeed psychological. Therefore, I don't go along with the connection with Eric Johnson's "amazing sense of tonality." He may have that, but turning a fuse around (or turning speaker wire around) is not evidence of a sense of tonality.


I wouldn't want to challenge any "audiophile" to prove the physical basis of a perceived improvement in sound. It's their business, and their money. However, when someone asks whether there is a physical origin or logical basis for a "tweak," then I believe it's OK to comment on whether that is reasonable. That's why I would advise Visionary that he does not need to turn around a speaker wire because some arrow printed on the insulation points one way or another. As I said, the electrons don't care which way the arrow points.
 

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I had the same thing happen to me. Since it was in the early stages of construction I pulled the Type 4 cable and reversed it. I know it is not good science, but I sleep better at night.


What was also not lost in me was the fact that Monster Cable has stick-on directional arrows on their cables that fall-off quite easily. These stick-ons are the only indication of the directionality of their cables. What do you do after they fall off and you have no idea from where they came? Point is, Monster Cable is playing with perception and increasing the marketing hype.


Have your cables pointing in the right direction, don't live on the 13th floor, never have a black cat cross your path, and don't walk under ladders. The last one is more of a safety issue since something can fall on you.
 

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Personally I won't write off directionality of cables as being merely superstitious. People argue that the laws of Physics determine that it won't make a difference or that the difference isn't measurable. That doesn't mean there ISN'T a difference.


Not to get too far off the deep end, but human/animal perception often goes beyond our means of measurement. I remember a show on TLC or Discovery where a dog was able to smell the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous skin tumors. None of our instrumentation was able to detect any difference other than through autopsy.


Maybe the directionality of cables does make a difference and maybe there are those who can really hear it. Just because I can't doesn't mean it isn't so.


Back when I was in High School, I was a guitar nut. Spent all my spare time playing guitar, listening to music and checking out new gear. I got so attuned to all the differences in tone between equipment that I could hear with very good accuracy (85%-95%) what their setup was. People would play me something by an artist I never heard before and I'd say: "That sounds like a Kramer with light strings, EMG pickups, a Marshall head and a Hartke cab", or "That's easy: Strat, single coil pickup, Fender amp". I can't distinguish so accurately anymore but it's just an example of how well one can be attuned to minute differences in sound.


-Mike...
 

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The fact is that when people are tested under controlled conditions

with many of these "tweaks" they fail to properly indicate which part

is tweaked and which isn't. None of this would bother any one much

(despite the medieval approach to a scientific question) except that some

audio companies charge horrific prices to people who think they are

benefitting. If I charge you money to remove "chimney mice" I get

charged with fraud. If I sell you a $500 power cable, I get $499 profit. :)
 

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While it is unlikely, there exists the possibility that when Johnson removed the fuse and then reinserted it, that the connectors could have been corroded and he made a better connection when he reinstalled the fuse.


The hype over cables is really quite fascinating. I've been playing around with interconnects, speaker cables, power cords, and digital cables for about 5 years now and have run all kinds of "comparisons" where it was clear that the primary difference was perception/psychological. Things like running a "comparison" between a $10 interconnect vs a $300 one, where I didn't actually install the $300 one and merely switched back to the same $10 cable throughout the comparison. But I told the listener that "A" was the $10 cable and "B" was the $300. He perceived several sonic differences (all improvements) from "B."


Twice I've swapped cables in the middle of comparisons, once in a high-end audio store, another time in a very expensive audiophile system. We started out with the cheap cables on "B" and expensive cables on "A". After several switches, the salesman & audiophile were interrupted and I swapped the cable connections on the preamp during the interruption. Then they came back and continued. Neither one of them noticed any changes, they just went right along pointing out all of the improvements of the expensive "A" cable.


Another time a friend of mine "upgraded" his digital cable to something that cost him $200-$300. He called me over to hear how it had "stripped away veils from the music." I swapped it out with a nickle-plated composite video cable that came free with a cheap VCR. He didn't detect any change at all.


I've run several more comparisons than the ones listed above. Didn't do so just to trick anyone, I was interested in seeing if people really could detect the differences with their ears, given deceiving information for their mind to process.


Tom B.
 

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Tom:


I did consider the corroded connectors on the fuse as being the most likely reason there was a difference, if any. Just out of curiosity what kind of cables have you settled with after all your time playing with them and pretty much debunking (at least in your own opinion) the "mythical" improvements achievable with cables?


Personally I've gone with low-end Kimber for peace of mind (It's braided and looks pretty, too :D ). I just can't bring myselft to chop up spools of lamp cord as speaker cables and wiring my own interconnects out of CAT5, although I probably wouldn't be able to hear a difference.


-Mike...
 
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