Tag Archives: speaker

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.

Interconnects and speaker cables matter

Yikes. After yesterday’s brave venture into the hornet’s nest of opinion about power cables and how they matter I can only just imagine the brouhaha today’s post is likely to elicit.

Fact or fiction: interconnects and speaker cables matter. As in yesterday’s post, you already know my answer. But, there are several burning questions.

Do they always matter? How come some people simply do not hear differences? Are audiophiles the only group that buys into the idea of cables making a sonic difference?

Let’s start with the last question first. No, certainly audiophiles are not the only people concerned with cable quality. At a minimum, engineers, recordists, and scientists pay close attention to the quality of their cables in an effort to get the lowest noise results. Proper shielding, balanced, and well-built connectors are a must for any serious pro. Do they also worry about the type of conductors and geometry of the design? Not many, but they do want to make sure they don’t muck up a job because of a noisy or broken cable.

And why do some not hear a difference? In my experience, it’s all about setup, system, and intent. While at RMAF a young group of fellow YouTube channel contributors approached me with folded arms and a challenge. They had purchased at Best Buy the cheapest USB cable they could find. Their challenge to me was to prove to them a difference between their cable and my high-performance cable mattered.

“No problem,” said I and invited them to Music Room One after the show. Within the first 30 seconds of the comparison the looks of shock on their faces was a sheer joy to me. Here were four bright young men intent on being right that cables cannot matter, yet open-minded enough to actually give it a try. After demonstrating the differences I left the room and their leader proceeded to test them with blind ABs and the group fared well: 70% accurate choices. Not bad for inexperienced listeners. (Yes, listening is a learned skill).

Do they always matter? No, they do not. I have had numerous experiences with systems that seem agnostic to the signal cables attached to them and I am not certain why. I’ve heard Bill Low’s Audioquest Boombox comparison of cables and the differences are stark and clear. Yet, I have also worked with in-home setups using good speakers where we could not tell the differences between zip cord and high-performance wire. My guess is that the room and setup were masking subtle differences normally heard.

Whatever the case, it’s obvious to me that for the most part cables—interconnects and speaker—matter.

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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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