Marvey's Cable Rolling Adventures

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Marvey, May 7, 2016.

  1. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    Could you elaborate? I'm genuinely curious. I've stumbled upon carbon nanotubes in a non-audio related setting and off-line, so I have less reason to think it's one of those audio unicorns mumbo-jumbo. But I was surprised at the claims that carbon-based materials had good electrical properties... I always thought---and I'm may be way off---of carbon-based stuff as insulators...
     

  2. Enigmatic

    Enigmatic Friend

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    Some of Van Den Hul cables (e.g. The First) uses carbon (L.S.C). Not sure how they sound though, at least not yet.
     
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  3. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I'm gonna give the cop-out answer and say"it depends". I think graphene research is further along than carbon tubes, and they've developed ways to dope the graphene to have specific properties. On the other hand carbon nanotubes typically have higher mechanical properties.
     
  4. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    It's all in the atomic configuration and whether the electrons are locked to a specific (or shared) location, or whether they are free to slide from one atom to the next. The chemistry/physics behind it is quite fascinating. Though it's really about 1st or 2nd year university chemistry that you learn this stuff, at least on a basic level.
     
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  5. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    Usable wire of graphene and carbon nanotube is on lab bench in few mm of length. While graphene and carbon nanotube are ballistic conductors (ie there are no charged particle collisions) thus much better conductor than any metal, they are currently plagued by linking techniques.
    Longest single piece graphene produced is by Samsung I think at 1x1 m, but that's on thick substrate. edit: I'm personally skeptical about it being monolayer. Too good to be true.
    One of my university group made conductors by linking graphene pieces together, but that is not going to dethrone silver as a conductor. Once one tries to link these mm long pieces one loses the inherent graphene properties, there will be boundaries for electrons.
    It will happen one day and our children will audiophool over which nanotube sounds best.
    More interesting place for nanotubes or graphene is microelectronics. Like processors and shit. Cable out of graphene is stupid. At least for now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
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  6. richard51

    richard51 Mr. Sorbothane

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    I have try only 6 cables....Not one sound the same, and the difference was audible for me in seconds, but never , never pay too much for a difference which is generally subtle, better to try some other mods. that i will not dare to mention in this thread....My better is a Morrow M3 interconnect, and an hybrid cable for my headphone ....
     
  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I wasn't kidding when I said give me some pencil leads and rubber cement. Based on some of those Mamalos pics and their writing, it really does sound like they've formulated some liquid goop that contains powdered carbon of some sort. Blah blah let met glob some of this amorphous putty all over your connective systems and wrap a carbon condom over top of it for protective reasons.
     
  8. uncola

    uncola Friend

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    That also sounds similar to what I remember reading about Cerious cables graphene stuff.. it's suspended in liquid ceramic around the conductor or something weird like that
     
  9. Rotijon

    Rotijon Friend

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    Ok, before we continue further down this rabbit hole. Here's a question i'm sure most have asked and tested but i need to confirm.

    @Marvey and everyone else. Did you match the impedance of the cables? Most if not all of the difference you're hearing is due to the different impedance level of each cable.

    And yes, most cables or at least the most important bits (cable) is manufactured in 3 Chinese/Taiwanese companies for pennies on the dollar compared to what you're paying.
     
  10. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    Hey now, you sound like one of those KG minions.

    On serious note, I've made my interconnects out of very different cable with wave impedance ranging from 50 to 200+ ohms per spec sheet. I have always written the changes in sound down to conductor material. The better the conductor copper and contacts the better the sound. It has been that simple to me.
     
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  11. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Fucking this^
     
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  12. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    I wonder if KG matched impedances bw his amp stages ?
     
  13. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    In my own experiments, the contacts/connectors seemed to make more of a difference than even conductor material. There is (supposedly) a concrete measurable difference between an oxidized or otherwise dirty contact compared to a good one. I would be inclined to believe that the difference might extend beyond "bad" contacts and into the realm of higher quality connectors

    That's why I think folks should just buy all the parts and DIY their own cables. I'm not a big believer in wacky geometries outside of coax or twisted pair runs so people can experience most of what's going on for pretty cheap (relatively)
     
  14. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    ^ This
     
  15. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Doesn't seem like impedance matters for analog audio interconnects:

    Blue Jeans Cable LC-1 Low-Capacitance Audio Cable - Design Notes
    Video cables are constrained in their design by the need to maintain a characteristic impedance of 75 ohms. As we've mentioned, that generally locks capacitance in at 16 to 21 pF/ft. But analog audio cables don't need to maintain any particular characteristic impedance. Unbalanced audio cable is usually run from a low-impedance output into a high-impedance input; it's not an impedance-matched system like video, and it doesn't need to be, because the wavelengths of analog audio signals are so long that--barring audio cables that are miles long--impedance just doesn't matter. Because analog audio isn't an impedance-matched system, we can make the characteristic impedance of an analog audio cable come out to any value at all, without any adverse consequence.

    My understanding is that (lower) capacitance is much more important than either resistance or inductance when it comes to interconnects.

    Blue Jeans infra
    These two attributes, shielding and capacitance, are the most important factors in unbalanced audio cable quality. Shielding is important, of course, because it keeps out externally-induced noise, and because unbalanced audio, unlike balanced audio, can't take advantage of common-mode noise rejection. Capacitance contributes to high-frequency rolloff, so the lower the capacitance of the cable, the flatter the frequency response in any given application (how flat will depend on the device impedances as well as the capacitance, so it's not possible to generate a one-size-fits-all frequency response chart; but in every case, the lower the capacitance, the flatter that curve will be). Capacitance, like many cable attributes, is a per-foot characteristic; while high capacitance won't ordinarily make a significant difference in short runs, it becomes an increasing problem with longer runs.

    TNT-Audio, The Naked Truth about Interconnect Cables
    The Cable inductance also matters little as long as it is kept moderate. . . . The Cable Capacitance is however crucial for interconnects. . . . I would conclude that in line-level interconnection the DC-Resistance and Inductance of the cable are of purely academic interest. Constructions with significant resistance or inductance will likely not manipulate the sound of the signal passing through it in any significant way. A capacitance as low as possible is however desirable. It seems also desirable to have the dielectric (read insulator) in the Cable to be of as good a Quality as possible.

    Empirical Audio, What makes an excellent Interconnect?
    Minimize Capacitance
    Interconnects transfer analog voltage signals between components. The voltages involved range from microvolts to a volt or so, but the currents involved are always extremely small. The currents are small because the load that the interconnect drives is generally between 10-100K ohms. This is the input impedance of the component being driven. There is virtually zero power transfer with interconnects.

    Because there is basically zero power transfer, it is not necessary for the driving component to be capable of driving much power. As a result, most components are designed with an output impedance of between 7 and 200 ohms. Lower is better because the driver is less "sensitive" to the load. However, the load is actually comprised of a resistive part and a capacitive part. This capacitance is caused by the integrated circuit or transistor packaging, the printed circuit board traces and the silicon itself. This capacitance presents a load to the driving component. If the capacitance is too large, the high-frequencies will begin to attenuate or decrease due to the loading on the driver. The input capacitance of a component is generally never characterized (not in the specs), but this is actually as important as the resistance. The interconnect also adds to this capacitance and can actually contribute more to the total capacitance than the receiving component. It is therefore an object to minimize the capacitance in an excellent interconnect.

    The capacitance of in interconnect is a function of its length. The longer it is, the higher the capacitance. This is why interconnect length should generally be minimized. Interconnect capacitance is also function of geometry and dielectric material. Capacitance is minimized by spacing the two conductors apart as much as possible and by avoiding parallelism. It is also minimized by using low dielectric-constant materials between the two conductors.

    Subjectively, when I compared my 3ft pair of Blue Jeans LC-1 (12.2pF/ft capacitance, 25awg solid copper (presumably Belden), Canare RCA connectors) to a 1m pair of Cardas Golden Reference (12pF/ft capacitance, 26awg Cardas copper and Golden Ratio stranding, Cardas RCA connectors) in my main system, I preferred the sound of the latter, despite nearly identical measured capacitance.

    When considering which XLR to get for the Schiit two-channel gear I plan on purchasing soon, I noted that the capacitance of the Cardas GR in a balanced configuration is a mere 7pF/ft, as opposed to Canare StarQuad's 46pF/ft. Too bad the prices do not correlate with capacitance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  16. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Ornery Admin

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    My kapton shielded mil spec wire ICs that people seemed to love had a bit of extra capacitance.
     
  17. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    That stuff sounded good. Smooth, refined, resolving. Cardas in comparison is warmbutt.

    It wasn't included in the comparison because I needed a longer length.
     
  18. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

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    I have a pair of Cardas Hexlink Golden 5C sitting in a drawer because I preferred the LC-1 to it. But that's because the LC-1 has a tighter connector...
     
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  19. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Impedance matching:

    I think I read about this at HC a long time ago, and if I remember correctly it was indeed KG who was big on this. Not sure if he still is. Impedance matching matters in transmission lines to maximize power and to minimize reflections.

    My understanding is, in somewhat simple terms, that one treats a cable as a transmission line when the reflections due to impedance mismatching happen far away in time relative to the width (in time) of the impulse response. For "fast" wire-line communication systems, the impulse response is a bit narrow relative to audio signals, and we are looking at relatively (to the signal BW) pretty long lines. In wire-line systems, these reflections are sometimes called near end echo, far end echo, and if multiple wires couple signal, there are near and far end cross-talk (NEXT and FEXT). The largest contributor to these linear distortion issues is near end echo. And no mater how awesome-sauce the HW engineer matched the impedance, it usually is not good enough. And that's an understatement. So powerful adaptive filters are used to kill the residuals.

    Now, when we are dealing with cables that connect a headphone, one can think of the cable as still a trace with almost negligible effects on anything in the audio range. Unless one FUCKS UP BADLY the capacitance, inductance and whatevers.

    IMO, impedance matching matters little. Furthermore, consider an amp with 8 ohms output impedance, and one forces the interconnect with the headphone to 8 ohms . If the headphone has some crazy impedance peaks and it's nominally 16 ohms, I think one is going to get poop. Better perhaps to use a lower impedance cable and forget about this impedance matching bullshit. I mean, are we going to impedance match all the traces in an amp or DAC? how about the silicon interconnects inside the DAC ASIC?

    What I personally look in a cable:

    1) Interconnects that match the specs closely so that I'm not scratching my head trying to hook up a 3.5 mm cable that is not 3.5 mm to the jack.
    2) Long lasting interconnects that don't start to rust (or come oxidized already out of the box), that will not peal off and fail to give me good ohmic contact.
    3) Reasonable gauge. I don't want a 40 gauge cable in the kilo ohm range and that will break if you sneeze. Nor a 1 gauge dildo cable. I want something that is flexible, not heavy, with negligible effects on the electronics, and easy to handle.
    4) I don't want to spend more than a small fraction of what I paid for pretty much all my other audio equipment. Like maybe $5. Maybe even less.

    All of the above I feel already exists. Cheap. And I think that is a good thing.

    EDIT: Forgot this one...
    5) Cable should not look like something that came out of the 7 dwarfs gold mine, surrounded by emeralds and diamonds. Plain black is good. I will take braided cable if it's not expensive (and ugly as fuck) also.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
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  20. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Now that I think about it, I did start my search last year looking for a warmer cable because I was using an Oppo 105D at the time. My understanding is that Cardas started moving away from the warmbutt sound from the old Hexlink and Quadlink lines from the 90s starting with the "Reference" products in the early 2000s and especially the newer "Clear" line. I also demoed a Cardas Golden Cross interconnect last year with the LC-1 and GR and found it too warm, so if that's what the Hexlink, etc. lines sound like I understand where you're coming from.

    The GR was simply the best I've found through some research; old, heavily discounted, local dealer stock; no soldering skills; and not wanting to play the order/return or online lending library games. Would never pay retail for it. With an Yggy and (presumably) solid-state Schiit speaker pre/amp in the cards soon, some warmth may not be a bad thing. Still use the LC-1 with my T3 for headphones.

    @zerodeefex, taking orders?
     

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