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FAQ & CABLE FABLES
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STRAIGHT WIRE - FAQ & CABLE FABLES
This section is designed to answer many common cable questions of both a general and technical/specific nature.
Please submit additional questions via e-mail  and we will promptly answer them to the best of our ability.


Straight Wire RSCAMP

CABLES ARE ACCESSORIES -
WHY DO I NEED TO CONSIDER UPGRADING?

Cable is a component (not accessory) because your system won't function without it.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL I GAIN FROM
UPGRADING CABLES?


Upgrading your interconnects will offer a sonic improvement at least equal to a major component upgrade -- at a fraction of the cost. Upgrading your speaker cables allows your system to handle all the power and musical details the components can deliver. Upgrading video cable allows you to minimize color bleed, distinguish shades of black or gray and increase picture depth at a small cost.

Straight Wire Black Box

DO CABLES ACT AS FILTERS?
DO THEY CHANGE THE SIGNAL?

All  cables act as complex passive filters with elements of capacitance, inductance & resistance. While they have observed sonic & electrical tendencies - cables are reactive (and can have a complimentary, neutral or derogatory effect in systems). Longer cables typically exhibit more of these effects.

DO TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS NECESSITATE BETTER CABLES?

Major advancements over the past decade in audio/video equipment include advanced digital processing, polymer speaker cabinets, digital video capabilities that were previously reserved for movie studios and better surface mount circuit design. Because of these advancements, you can hear and see the difference of high performance cables more than ever before in your system. Like tires for your car.....you consider  today it  is accepted to have specific tires for tuned suspensions and reduced road resonance. Filling tires with Nitrogen was done rarely years ago but now every dealer suggests it for ride and pressure stability as well as extending tire wear...

Straight Wire clean window

WHAT SIMPLE ANALOGY CAN HELP ME VISUALIZE UPGRADE CABLE BENEFITS?

BETTER CABLES ARE LIKE CLEANING WINDOWS

Inserting low quality cables will mask and veil sonic & visual details. Better cables are like cleaning a window or your glasses - you realize afterwards that images are clearer and sounds are more precise.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS WITH HIGHER LEVELS OF CABLE?

Generally speaking, moving up in the cable level provides more conductor groups for lower electromagnetic effects and increased quality of insulation for less capacitive storage/ greater velocity of propagation(speed). Better conductor quality for purer, more accurate transmission. . You can hear & see the improvement with higher levels of Straight Wire.

Straight Wire twin lead

ARE THICKER CABLES ALWAYS BETTER?

Basic speaker wire with two parallel conductors act as opposing magnets which rolls off (cancels) part of the music signal. As the conductors get big (12Ga +), electromagnetic fields distort the closest portion of the opposing conductor. Consideration must be given to the amount of power and speaker cable length in selecting the right cable for each application.

Better to divide the conductors into smaller, alternating (pos, neg, pos, neg...) groups with a slight twist. They will have less electromagnetic cancellation and other signal loss. A four conductor 16Ga. speaker cable will out perform most 12 Ga. two conductor cables.

Straight Wire silvscop

MUST HAVE SAME LENGTH CABLES?

The difference is not the time it takes the signal to go through the cable, but the complex reactance (filtering) that will take place largely due to resistance. Cable lengths within 25% of each other for moderate to intermediate systems are not optimal but OK. Sales people should caution customers to buy standard matching length pairs of cable in case they change rooms, move equipment or think they might trade-in or resell the cable

SILVER IS BETTER THAN COPPER?

While silver offers greater theoretical conductivity than copper by about 1%, it has a different sonic signature (clearer & faster for highs - not as full for bass). Silver oxidizes differently and is usually cost prohibitive. Some cables use silver plating effectively.

Straight Wire PBN CALL

GOLD PLATING INDICATES A CONNECTOR IS GOOD?

Gold plating is usually a very thin layer (usually over a bright nickel base) which will resist corrosion. It looks good but is frequently applied over low quality base metals. Other materials such as silver ,rhodium & platinum have benefits which may not be cost or application justified for audio / video systems.

LONG CABLE DOESN'T EFFECT PERFORMANCE?

A short cable will have not just lower resistance but less reactance (inductive & capacitive) than longer cables of the same construction. Keep them short and at a standard length. Get cable long enough to access components & meet future placement needs.

Straight Wire sheild corroded

INTERCONNECTS DON'T NEED TO BE SHIELDED?

You cannot always predict the RF and other forms of interference (EMI) found in many homes. Many high end interconnect cables without proper shielding or shield termination are hindering system performance. Most background noise and grounding problems can be eliminated with well shielded signal & video cables. Not so critical for most speaker cables unless you are running them directly on AC power lines.

BARE SPEAKER WIRE IS BETTER THAN
GOLD PINS OR FANCY ENDS?

Bare copper, regardless of purity will oxidize & corrode, especially with current running through it. It is better to attach a gold plated end which will resist corrosion or cover the end with silver solder.

Straight Wire RSC-IBW

BI-WIRING ALWAYS MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE?

Many speakers today have double sets of binding posts which allow for bi-amping or bi-wiring. The audible benefits of Bi-amping - Vertical (one amp for right speaker, other for left) or Horizontal (one amp for LF, another for mids & highs) are usually clear. Bi-wiring (internal or external) is especially useful when the characteristic impedance varies between the high & low frequency segments of the speaker (i.e. 3 ohm & 8 ohm). It helps reduce the effects of backflow EMF which can smear HF details. If the characteristic impedance is close- the benefits of bi-wiring might not be as clearly audible. 

It is usually better in most systems with cables under 20ft (6M) to connect with a single run of a high quality cable that can be internally bi-wired than to externally Bi-wire with two separate pieces of lower quality cable. For longer lengths please consult with us or a knowledgeable AV specialist.

Straight Wire cap-meter

HIGH CAPACITANCE IS ALWAYS BAD?

Don't let consumers intimidate you because their engineer friend told them to get the cable with the lowest capacitance per foot (meter). It is irrelevant in most cases - only loop capacitance (total of length x cap. per foot) is of concern for passive preamps and sensitive (usually unstable) components. Some cables have relatively high capacitance (120pf/ft+) but ultra-low inductance which usually works great on tube electronics.

Straight Wire SYM SC-directional

DIRECTIONALITY IS NOT IMPORTANT?

Based upon the design & shield termination of the cable - directionality can matter. Most cable manufacturers put directionality arrows on cables based upon research & listening evaluations. Some models of cable are symmetrical and directionality is not critical. For shielded cabled (typically interconnects) you should know if the shield is connected at one end of the cable with the negative conductors (single ended shield) or if it is connected at both ends.

 

BREAKING IN CABLES MAKES LITTLE DIFFERENCE?

Just as amplifiers and speakers will sound better after 30-50 hours of use, cables may have a one-time capacitive effect when the insulation is first exposed to current. This is especially true of cable with "Litz" conductors or individually coated strands. The insulation will stabilize electrically - midrange will have greater depth & warmth. The cable will sound smoother – more cohesive and less analytical in many cases.



 

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