Homebrew speaker cable

Ch3tan

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Yep, well to my ears anyway. And a hell of a lot cheaper than "proper" speaker cable.
 

TdC

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woot cat5 to the rescue!

btw, I'm tempted to do that myself, though my amp and speakers are in no way audiophile enough to warrant it. thing is, I imagine that three strands of c5 braided is about as thick as a thumb. with a surround amp like mine that means five thumb-thick black cables stretching through the livingroom. not a pleasing thought tbh :( perhaps just the front speakers then ;)
 

Chilly

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Heh, nice one ch3t, although my bro works for Kef and gave me a 50m roll of some fukin hardcore copper cables for my speakers. Theres so much copper in the stuff that you can barely bend it and it weighs a ton, although, if you look inside a speaker the wire they use to go from the terminals to the signal munching innards is tiny, there is absolutely no point using speaker cable superior to that.
 

Big G

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Looks like a good cheap way of running speaker cables, although i'll stick to proper stuff for my CDs ;).

Might be a good way or wiring up rear speakers in a 5.1 setup.
 

Tom

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The only thing you should be concerned with is the input impedance the amplifier 'sees' when the speaker cable is connected.

Everything else is arbitrary.

Oh, and bi-wiring is cock of the highest order. But thats another story.
 

TdC

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what is up with that impedance thing btw? can someone explain it to me in terms that a bloke-reasonably-techy-but-utterly-pants-at-anything-remotely-hifi can understand please :)
 

Ch3tan

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There are limits on how long the runs are with cat5 cabling -can cause problems as its not designed for use as speaker cable. See the links mentioned in the thread. I'm onlys using it for my center speaker and fronts.Longest run I have is 5 meters for my right speaker.

It's meant to sound better than £70 a meter speakers cable according to all the audiophilles on those forums, plus the cable making freaks on other sites. All I know is, it sounds a hell of a lot better playing CD's and movies than what I previously had, and the £5 a meter cable I demo'd.

Big G, Maplins sell the cable for 49p a meter. Quite easy to knock a short run together and test it against your current stuff, see which you prefer. Order code is vb20w
 

Tom

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TdC said:
what is up with that impedance thing btw? can someone explain it to me in terms that a bloke-reasonably-techy-but-utterly-pants-at-anything-remotely-hifi can understand please :)
In layman's terms, impedance is merely AC resistance. Its not as simple as that, but impedance is basically a function of resistance, inductance, and capacitance.

It varies with frequency (hence why people call it AC resistance), but is usually measured at 1KHz.

Speakers are rated with impedance because the drivers contain voice coils (inductors), and in a speaker with more than one driver it will contain a capacitor/inductor network to filter the signal to each driver (because bass frequencies can damage a tweeter).

Cables have their own impedance, which varies according to the design of the cable.

If you want a very quick, simple demonstration of inductance, get a 12V car battery, wire it to a small coil of wire, and place a magnet in the middle of that coil. Turn the circuit on (briefly, don't wanna short circuit the battery for too long or it will set on fire), and watch the coil/magnet shoot into the ceiling/floor :)
 

smurkin

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Tom said:
Cables have their own impedance, which varies according to the design of the cable.
Aye, but surely this is negligable even if you coil it so it sits in its own field. I was under the impression the fat copper on a good cable is to reduce simple resistance not impedance (of course I could be wrong).

Any road, I wanted you to justify that cock statement about biwires (lovingly strokes his chunky biwires) :D
 

TdC

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Ch3tan said:
There are limits on how long the runs are with cat5 cabling -can cause problems as its not designed for use as speaker cable.
a single run of cat5 can be up to 300ft iirc. don't worry about it. the length is given because the signal will degrade without an aparatus like a hub/switch/computer to re-send it.
 

Big G

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smurkin said:
I was under the impression the fat copper on a good cable is to reduce simple resistance not impedance (of course I could be wrong).
But impedance is resistance? , from an AC perspective?

You lost me a bit with this sentence.
 

TdC

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Tom said:
In layman's terms, impedance is merely AC resistance. Its not as simple as that, but impedance is basically a function of resistance, inductance, and capacitance.

It varies with frequency (hence why people call it AC resistance), but is usually measured at 1KHz.

Speakers are rated with impedance because the drivers contain voice coils (inductors), and in a speaker with more than one driver it will contain a capacitor/inductor network to filter the signal to each driver (because bass frequencies can damage a tweeter).

Cables have their own impedance, which varies according to the design of the cable.

If you want a very quick, simple demonstration of inductance, get a 12V car battery, wire it to a small coil of wire, and place a magnet in the middle of that coil. Turn the circuit on (briefly, don't wanna short circuit the battery for too long or it will set on fire), and watch the coil/magnet shoot into the ceiling/floor :)

so you set your hifi to 6, 8, 10 (or more) ohm to overcome the base resistance of the drivers?
 

Big G

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Not sure what you mean teeds, you mean set the volume level to 6,8,10 etc?

The impedance of the speakers doesn't change, hifi speakers are generally 8 ohms.
 

TdC

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nah Mr G, I mean that I can set my amp to a certain impedance for the speakers. I believe this is 6,8 or 10 ohm on mine.
 

Ch3tan

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TdC said:
a single run of cat5 can be up to 300ft iirc. don't worry about it. the length is given because the signal will degrade without an aparatus like a hub/switch/computer to re-send it.
http://www.venhaus1.com/diycatfivecables.html

"
Caution: Although this cable has a low inductance design, its capacitance is relatively high (falls between other highish capacitance cables such as Kimber 8TC and Goertz). While the high capacitance is virtually a non-factor as far as sonics go, it MAY be a problem for unstable amplifiers and cause them to oscillate. This can be mitigated by NOT using very long lengths of cable (>8 ft.), and making sure your amp isn't one of the few that are unstable into highly capacitance loads. Most modern properly designed amplifiers should not have a problem. Check with the manufacturer, if you are in doubt, or construct a Zobel network for your speakers (see links to discussions below). Bi-wiring with 2 separate runs of this 10 ga. equivalent cable is also not encouraged, if you suspect your amp does not operate well into highly capacitive loads. For those who want to bi-wire, I would suggest using the full blown 27 pair version for the low-end (10 ga.), and 9 pairs (Three, 3 pair braids braided) for the high-end (15 ga.). Also, do not automatically assume that bi-wiring is better. See this article on advantages and disadvantages of biwiring As a rule of thumb, it is generally better to keep speaker cables AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE, even if it means using longer interconnects. If you encounter a problem with your amp oscillating, or it shuts down at higher volumes, here are discussions on possible remedies (Zobel networks):
solving capacitance issue #1
solving capacitance issue #2."
 

smurkin

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impedance is futile

Big G said:
But impedance is resistance? , from an AC perspective?

You lost me a bit with this sentence.
Aye ... I'm lost too :m00: impedance is resistance....well, yes and no.

Resistance depends on the property of the material (as a function of temperature...but thats irrelevant) - its pretty much a constant.

Impedance doesnt depend so much on the material, but the shape/configration of the wire and the variation of the current. For a speaker coil, when current flows through the coil, an electromagnetic field is formed (inductance). When current moves through a field an opposing force occurs that tries to stop the current (in o level physics, this is the opposing right hand and left hand rules). This is impedance. With the tight coil, the alterations in current are really strongly in contact with the electromagnetic field, and hence the opposing force (impedance) is really strong. The situation is worsened by the bloody great magnets around the coils.

For a straight speaker wire, there is less exposure of the changing current to the electromagnetic field it creates - simply because its stretched out - hence, in my view, impedance is irrelevant in the context of a cable because it is extremely small. Much more significant is the resistance. I think this cat5 approach essentially increases the cross sectional area of copper (by adding in paralell) - this lowers the resistance and that is why it is good.


@ Tom

Now, the biwire approach (in my hands) has the advantage of using separate wires for woofer and tweeter. This is nice because you are increasing the cross sectional area you are using (lowered resistance) - but more importantly, woofer and tweeters are each assigned separate amplifier channels. Each speaker has a back emf/voltage which is the amplifier has to deal with - by giving each cone/coil a channel - the channel has to deal with less back emf and hence is better capable of driving the speaker accurately, particularly at volume. ;)
 

TdC

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Ch3tan said:
http://www.venhaus1.com/diycatfivecables.html

"
Caution: Although this cable has a low inductance design, its capacitance is relatively high (falls between other highish capacitance cables such as Kimber 8TC and Goertz). While the high capacitance is virtually a non-factor as far as sonics go, it MAY be a problem for unstable amplifiers and cause them to oscillate. This can be mitigated by NOT using very long lengths of cable (>8 ft.), and making sure your amp isn't one of the few that are unstable into highly capacitance loads. Most modern properly designed amplifiers should not have a problem. Check with the manufacturer, if you are in doubt, or construct a Zobel network for your speakers (see links to discussions below). Bi-wiring with 2 separate runs of this 10 ga. equivalent cable is also not encouraged, if you suspect your amp does not operate well into highly capacitive loads. For those who want to bi-wire, I would suggest using the full blown 27 pair version for the low-end (10 ga.), and 9 pairs (Three, 3 pair braids braided) for the high-end (15 ga.). Also, do not automatically assume that bi-wiring is better. See this article on advantages and disadvantages of biwiring As a rule of thumb, it is generally better to keep speaker cables AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE, even if it means using longer interconnects. If you encounter a problem with your amp oscillating, or it shuts down at higher volumes, here are discussions on possible remedies (Zobel networks):
solving capacitance issue #1
solving capacitance issue #2."

arr. 300' for data transport from a powered source to a powered source. sorry, I do indeed realise that speaker cables run the shorter=better route :)
 

Danya

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Don't reckon my kit is pricey enough to warrant fancy cables. :p
 

TdC

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neither is mine tbh but I'm curious :)
 

TdC

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I'm taking some cat5 home with me to give it a go. I'm doing the braids with the sleeves on (first post method) as opposed to the "take the sleeves off and braid the innards" method. I'm using three 10' strands to make one cable that's about 7' in length. if you like I can do pics and stuff :)
 

Ch3tan

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piccies would mean un-connecting everything! I need some heath shrink and expanding sleeving to complete the look, but they dont look bad. My cousin came over when I was out and was asking my dad how i could afford £35 a meter speaker cable -thats what it looked like to him :)
 

TdC

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hehe I'm not doing any fancy stuff, just the braided cables 'n whatall. dod you do just the cables Chets, or did you take the whole thing apart and braid the innards?
 

Ch3tan

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Braiding the inards is crazy. I just braided the cable, the inards are braided within the cables anyway.
 

TdC

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here it is:

well, I was inspired enough to actually try to make such a cable. now that I've done so I have pics and pointers for you all.

lets see...starting out, I nabbed three 15' cat5 cables from workies. now these are the works, with plugs and everything. when making speakercables you (duh) don't need the plugs.



I started out by taping three ends together. after this I placed the end of the cable I was about to braid under a handilly located table leg so I could keep tention on the braid while making it.



braiding cat5 cable is not very hard, though there was some swearing involved :) I suspect that easiest would be to have each cable on a little reel and you'd just swap the reels about. there's a guy on the internet who talks about keeping the cables rolled. I didn't do any of this. ahem. whilst braiding I found that the cables at the opposite end from the table leg were starting to "braid" themselves. it was frustrating trying to get them loose again, because the mantle of the cables I was using is almost sticky as far as plastics go the friction of the cables against each other kept them tangled and resisted my feeble attempts to shake them loose :/

 

TdC

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here it is (2)

apart from the cables tendance to tangle the actual braid only took about 15 or 20 minutes or so leaving me with this:



cutting off the plugs and about 4cm off the mantle left me with this:



now the little twisted-pair cables are the most time-consuming part of the process. stripping them would go best with a decent cable-stripper. I believe that the 0.5mm setting would work just peachy. naturally I couldn't find mine anywhere and I had a crap one anyway, so I decided to do it by hand. this task turned out to be something I'd not even wish on my most dire enemies. in fact I'd rather rub nettles on my scrote than ever do it again. anyway, this is what the cables now look like:



each individual cable has been split into whole-coloured and striped cables, stripped and the cables twisted together.
 

TdC

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here it is (3)

now I twist the three strands that will become the positive terminal and their negative brothers together to form two thick strands:



now all I have to do is hook the cables up to my amp and speakers, or speaker as I only have made one cable. I intend to see if I can discern any differnce between the braided cable and the bog-standard cable I used beforehand.



I grab a cd that I know to have a large dynamic range, in this case it's Brainfreeze by DJ Shadow and the Cut Chemist. At first I'm astounded by my right speaker with it's new cable.



I'm careful while listening, because I'm not at all an audiophile nor do I have the uber-kit that I guess you need to be able to discern extra cable-quality properly. as it is, I'm astounded. I'm not entirely sure if it's wishful thinking or not, but I believe that I can hear a slight difference in the sound from my right speaker as opposed to the left one with it's old cable. the diff is indeed an improvement, as predicted by the article in the first post. the high-frequency sound is what I notice first. the sounds of high-hat and other noises from the tweeter seem much better defined, clearer if you will. after some listening I change the cd to Hail to the Thief by Radiohead. now I notice that the bass also seems to have better definition. where my left speaker's bass seems to have a slight "blur" to it (come on, I thought all speakers sounded like that!) the right one doesn't have the blur and thus seems much crisper.

now I'm not sure if this is all wishful thinking or not. anyway, here is my conclusion: the right speaker seems to be slightly clearer than the left, with it's old cable. as soon as I can get my hands on three more strands of 15' cat5 I'm making another cable :)
 

Ch3tan

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Get the good quality solid core stuff they recommend in the thread. I was going to post last night, but I fell asleep. Dont try and strip the internal wires! I did the first cable I made, god damn nightmare -even with a a wire cutter of 0.5mm.

Best way is to light a candle, hold the wire you want to strip inside the flame for a second, let it darken but not actually catch fire, then use your nail to dig into the soft and warm plastic and strip along the lenght. EAsy peasy, no mistake with cut wire and a lot faster.

PS: Hulk Pez \0/
 

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