Howto make low-inductance speaker cables

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DIY Audio Projects writes a DIY speaker cable project::

The cables use multiple stands of 16 AWG wire that is twisted together in alternating directions. The alternating cable geometry minimizes inductance. The multiple 16 AWG wires combine to create a cable with an equivalent cable gauge of 10, so resistance is also low. The result is a fine looking cable that delivers the performance of commercial cables at a fraction of the cost.

Note that he calls the oak sleeves at the end of the cable “decorative”.

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10 Responses to Howto make low-inductance speaker cables

  1. @ #1 – the oak sleeve is for timbre! ;) Actually, it is purely decorative.

  2. jimkirk says:

    Haineux, the increased capacitance won’t affect the bass response, but I agree, kudos for actually measuring the RLC, and no, it won’t make much of a difference in the audio band. Even the highest inductance cable (0.19 uH per foot) will have an inductive impedance of 0.024 ohms per foot at 20kHz. 10 feet will have maybe a quarter of a dB effect on a typical speaker (the speaker impedance generally increases at high frequencies, so any series impedance will have a smaller effect).

    On the other hand, years ago a major audio magazine used to have a booth at major trade shows to showcase the best of the best of audiophile goodness. One year the speaker cables were built like this, about tiny twisted pairs all twisted and braided together. Ultrawide band power amp to provide absolutely linear phase over the audio spectrum at several hundred watts.

    Unfortunately the state of the art power amplifier kept blowing line fuses, even at low volume. Not very “hifi”.

    Turns out the cable had about 1000 pF per foot. (In the article, the Goertz cable is 500 pF/foot.) Couple that with an amplifier with gain out to several megahertz and the thing would go unstable with RF oscillations.

  3. rak0ribz says:

    Just to clarify my earlier comment:

    The 40-conductor ribbon cable was hooked up so that all the “odd” wires were negative (for instance), and all the “even” wires were positive.

  4. searconflex says:

    Thank you to haineaux and rakorbiz for the intersting s.m.r.t. comments. Was wondering how this method would compare against the homebrewed cat 5 method…
    http://hackaday.com/2005/05/26/cat-5-speaker-cables/

    …or are they essentialy the same thing?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I find that the disembodied spinal cords of copyright violators make the best speaker cables.

    Just make sure that you leave enough brain tissue to allow the miscreant to feel pain, and be sure to load extra glucose when you go on holiday.

  6. nixiebunny says:

    what’s with the decorative wooden tubes? do they give the cable that warm wooden tube sound?

    But seriously, I’d like to see something, anything, that sounds really good and is built like actual electronic equipment instead of furniture. In case audiophiles haven’t noticed, the rest of the world stopped building electronics into furniture about 25 years ago.

  7. Agies says:

    @1 Except for that media pc disguised as a coffee table the other day, and people who build computers into tables, and even the Microsoft Surface table… and a whole lot more.

  8. haineux says:

    This “braided cable” approach to speaker cables has been around forever, and was a Usenet rec.audio flamewar in the mid-Eighties.

    I am delighted to see that this guy actually measured the resistance, inductance, and capacitance of the cables, presumably somewhat accurately.

    The RLC equivalents will explain to the learned how the cable should affect the sound coming out of the speaker. As he states, these cables are lower in inductance than zip cord, which should improve high-frequency response.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, his cables are higher in capacitance than zip cord, which means that they will block some bass response.

    HOWEVER, Since the RLC values are so small, the effect will, at the very best, be slight.

    FURTHERMORE, all speaker systems I know of have much larger RLC values than the cables — so the speakers affect the sound MUCH more than the cables.

    And, just to put the sweet green icing on the ice cream cake that is melting in the rain in MacArthur’s Park (woah, woah woah), speakers’ RLC values are not constant, since the voice coils (or equivalent) are moving.

    I have no doubt that there are people who can hear the difference between heavy-gauge zip cord and fancy cables. Trained human ears are pretty darn good, and anyone who listens to the same recording a few hundred times automatically trains their ears to some extent.

    Which is better? OBVIOUSLY, the more-expensive cables are better, or in this case, the lovingly home-made ones.

  9. rak0ribz says:

    The incomparable Robert Pease wrote an article about speaker cables over a decade ago. He’d been wiring a large space for sound, and determined that (IIRC) 40-conductor ribbon cable happened to have the right L & C per unit length to present a pretty decent 8 ohm impedance (so as to be matched to the speakers’ nominal impedance). He soldered them the way you’d expect, alternating positive and negative sides, and they apparently worked like a charm.

    I had the good fortune to attend a talk he was giving a couple of years ago, and asked him about it. He still recalled the particulars of the article (which I’d long since forgotten). It just proved to me that I could never hope to match his mind, and that I’d better start working on my beard instead.

    (I haven’t been able to find the article in question online anywhere; Electronic Design’s long-ago archives aren’t indexed very well.)

  10. Anonymous says:

    @1

    So they did. So they did. And now we live in a world filled with artless, feckless lumps of non-biodegradable plastic without style, grace or aesthetic merit, bound together with rats nests of cables. Not all of it, mind you. Just the cheap, manufactured at great distance, transported at great expense, cheap enough not to warrant repair, regularly replaced, regularly thrown into landfill tat. Which is to say, most of it.

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