Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Yes, audio cables make a difference, but if you follow certain rules regarding capacitance, inductance and shielding, you get most of the way there. Expensive cables are in many cases a joke, but bless the guys who make a fortune doing this as they are delivering something many audiophiles want and if people want it, give it too them.

Cables matter

Oh boy. I saved this and the next Fact or Fiction for last. This is a real viper pit of a question and those loyal readers of this blog know my answer before I even write it. Of course they matter, but only if we’re a bit open to proving that to ourselves.

I suppose we’ll begin with the most reviled of them all, power cables. Tomorrow we’ll tackle signal cables.

I am told our company loses credibility among the professional engineering crowd whenever we suggest power cables matter to sound quality. And, here’s my answer to that. I am sorry, but that doesn’t change the facts—nor am I incentivized to soften my stance. That the idea power cables matter makes little sense to someone who believes they have the electrical world figured out is something I won’t waste anyone’s time defending. If you firmly believe this to be true—that with your wisdom and knowledge you’re convinced it cannot be true—you should skip today’s post because you’ll be simply wasting your time.

The biggest head scratcher for people is this: if there’s several hundred feet of copper wire between the power pole and your equipment, what’s another 6 feet of expensive wire going to matter? As we’ve seen so many times throughout this Fact or Fiction mini-series, how you phrase the question makes all the difference in the world. Posed in the standard way I just described it makes no sense whatsoever. How could it? Let’s try asking it another way. In an AC circuit is the interface between the middle noisy load important? Now, our answer might look a bit different.

The notion in most people’s heads is that the powered equipment is at the end of the long copper power chain. This is actually wrong because it’s in the middle of the AC circuit (think of an AC circuit like a loop where the equipment is in the middle, the AC source at the opposite end). Furthermore, our equipment is both inductive and noisy. In fact, chances are good the point where the AC comes out of your home’s wall is the noisiest environment in your home—an environment hostile to good sound.  This is why shielding your power cables is so important.

“Whoa, skippy. Who cares if there’s RF and EMI on the power line? It’s all eliminated in the power supply anyway.”

Ahh, another good point, but again, a little myopic in favor of supporting a philosophy in opposition to what we in the high end already know. Thing is, power supplies might look good in a schematic but that’s about the only place. If the equipment grounds (which are tied directly to the AC plug ground) are noisy then there’s sonic trouble. What we hope for is to shield and deliver as unfettered and clean power as possible to our equipment.

At the proverbial end of the day, it’s easy enough to sonically compare a stock power cord with a decently shielded heavy gauge version.

You won’t have to go back and forth more than just once.

 

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Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

I don’t agree with this one, especially as relates to bass, but what do I know?

Speaker size should match the room

This fact or fiction question is an interesting one because the notion of matching speaker size to room dimensions is so ingrained into our culture as to be taken for fact. But, some facts aren’t true no matter how much we want them to be.

Here’s the deal. Any size loudspeaker will work in just about any sized room. The exceptions are easily found with common sense: no, a pair of bookshelf speakers won’t work in the Astrodome just as an IRSV won’t fit into a closet.

As long as we’re on the same page with respect to common sense, let’s take a look at where these ideas came from.

Our natural human tendency is to match object size to the space they occupy, which is why a small dining room table in a big home looks out of place, or a king sized bed hardly works in a tiny room. But it’s our visual sensibilities that are at fault here, not the size mismatch. In fact, for a family of two with the occasional visiting couple, a 4-seat dining room table is all we need irrespective of the dining room’s size. And I can tell you from personal experience a king bed sleeps as well in a cramped room as it does in a palatial suite.

I remember one of my trips to NYC, while on a visit with Lyric HiFi owner Mike Kay. He took me to an old Brownstone somewhere on the city’s West Side to visit an IRSV owner. To my surprise, the giant 4-piece Infinity speaker system dominated their tiny living room to such a degree that the owners had to walk between the midrange and woofer towers to access their upstairs bedroom. The beasts consumed 80% of their living room and looked absurdly out of place to me, but oh man did they sing! These were some of the finest sounds I had ever heard from a pair of the massive speakers—almost as nice as another tiny room filled with them at the home of the Absolute Sound Magazine’s publisher, Harry Pearson.

With common sense boundaries in mind, I am calling this one fiction.

 

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