Tag Archives: cables

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.

Oh, the lengths we go to

I have seen some crazy stuff in the 40 plus years I have been around audiophiles and high-end systems. Exotic room conditioning, trinkets aplenty, cables the size of my leg, claims of subatomic effects, components that sound different depending on their earthly orientation, low-frequency waves said to resonate with the Earth. In fact, I could spend hours relating some of the great tricks and techniques applied in service of better sound.

What’s interesting to me is the large number of these ‘tricks of the trade’ that actually work. In fact, more often than not fellow audiophiles have taught me great things that I routinely incorporate in my own system and recommend to others.

One of those suggestions I often hear about is separating cables from each other. You’ve no doubt seen the multitude of after-market cones, lifts, and strategies for elevating cables off the floor and separating them from the pack. While I don’t currently use these add-ons to isolate and improve performance, I do pay close attention to what sits next to each other.

In my experience, higher level cables radiate more than those of lower level. For example, speaker and power cables radiate more than low-level signal cables—yet low-level signal cables are far more susceptible to radiated interference the either of these higher level cable examples. Much depends on levels of shielding and the types of signals being transferred over those cables.

My rule of thumb is simple. Do what you can to keep speaker cables off the floor and away from any other cables. (the MG Audio cables I use are easy to simply stand on edge). Power cables are ok on the floor but should be dressed in a way that keeps them from interconnects. And above all, use balanced interconnects at every opportunity. Not only do they consistently sound better, but they can reject stray EMI that does get in.

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.

Stubbornness

My favorite audio company of all time is Audio Research, back in the day when William Zane Johnson ran it.

Bill Johnson was a passionate man—stubborn too. For many years, he had every right to be firm in his beliefs. In those days, Audio Research made the best-sounding audio equipment in the world. If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear a vintage Audio Research system on resolving speakers, you’ll have difficulty understanding the passion and reverence for that lush, rich, warm sound washing over you. It was so juicy you could just fall into the music.

Change was hard for Bill Johnson. The idea of balanced inputs or detachable power cords just chapped his buns. He and I sparred over such newfangled ideas but I was never able to sway him—particularly about power cords (though someone must have). Years later all Audio Research products sported detachable cords.

Bill’s stubbornness about power cables came from two areas: “bullshit!” and “what we have works.”

The first is obvious if you knew Bill. I could never persuade him that power cables mattered. He was too much of a diehard engineer to swallow any of that.

But what hurt Audio Research was the last bit of reasoning: what we have works.

Sometimes it’s alright—preferable even—to acquiesce to what your customers want as long as it doesn’t violate your core principles.

Bill Johnson’s core principles were simple.

Make great music.