View Full Version : Hifi blew up - chance for new AV amp? Suggestions please :)

Fat Tone
16th April 2002, 01:45
I have (had) a NAD 505 receiver (amp + tuner), about 9 years old, already repaired once, remote lost (child threw in bin?) and a NAD 705 5-disc CD player. They are in a nice peice of furniture in one corner of the lounge. The amp blew up on Saturday (first one channel went dead, then something smoked inside. Haven't looked yet to see what.)

At the opposite end of the room is my Hitachi 28" widescreen (with Dolby Pro Logic) and under that (apart from the VHS & digital Cable box) is my Scan SC2000 DVD player, which doesn't have 5.1 decoding, and in my opinion doesn't do a very good job of downmixing. For Example, Jurassic Park 2 has both 5.1 & Pro Logic tracks. The Pro Logic track seems much more detailed. As more and more discs are coming with only 5.1 and above this is becoming a problem.

So: Is this an opportunity to replace my amp with something that has a 5.1 decoder in it, and have my two systems combined? I'm already sharing the hifi speakers with the TV via a switch box to provide FL & FR.

Ideally the amp will let me continue to use my CD player, will be in the HIFI Cabinet, and will have an RDS tuner. I guess it is too early to go for digital radio. My budget won't be big.



Fat Tone
16th April 2002, 04:25
Guess I should have visited www.richersounds.co.uk before posting such a newbie question. They have quite a few AV amps in the 130 to 180 range.

Any opinions on the Aiwa AVD58 (150), or the Kenwood KRFV5050 (170) or the Sherwood RD6103 (180)?


dave m
16th April 2002, 05:21
The Yamaha RXV520RDS at 179.99 from them is a nice price if it's TSP of 349.99 is true. I've got the 420 and am extremely pleased with it.


16th April 2002, 05:58
Don't know what you can and can't get in the UK compared to the US, but here are some manufactures that make good AV amps and DD/DTS decoders, and don't have astronomical prices:

Denon - Look at the AVR line. I have the 3802, which is very nice. The 2802 is a little less powerful, but should suite your needs and budget a bit better.

Marantz - Check out the SR line.

Yahmaha - Very good receivers at a good price.

Onkyo/Integra - On par with the rest in performance/price.


Fat Tone
16th April 2002, 06:13
Thanks Guys. I've just taken a walk to the local Richer Sounds shop, but the sales guy just tried to sell me the Sherwood model, dismissing the others. He did come clean and say it wasn't very good as a stereo amp.

dave m, the 420 is actually 215 from Richer S! Makes me wonder if a bigger number does equal a better model! What did you pay for the 420? I did find a very favourable review of it.

Any opinions on the use of these amps as a hifi replacement? Please bear in mind that my (front) speakers are Keff Coda 7s, my lounge room is ~4.5m x 3.5m excluding bays etc, and I don't have what you would call audiophile ears or tastes! I guess I just don't want to regret not having the NAD repaired when listening to music.



16th April 2002, 06:19
I'd be interested in the answer to this question too! The biggest stumbling block I have to going DVD/Surround Sound is that I cant see a 200 box of AV trickery having the same sound quality as my old Rotel 920BX on regular audio.

I suppose you could do what I was thinking of doing, which is to add a seperate AV amp and a pair of cheap (100 Mission 702) floorstanders in addition to my wallmounted Castle Trents.
But that assumes you have the space and the wife for it ;)

Fat Tone
16th April 2002, 06:26
Originally posted by RichL
But that assumes you have the space and the wife for it ;) LOL! :D

I think the wife is quite shell shocked atm and will agree to most things ;) We've spent quite a lot lately on the house & car, in preparation for another 5 years of poverty (2nd kid) so I guess another few hundred quid won't even be noticed ;)

Seriously, it's a choice between 50 to repair an old, incomplete amp, or another 100 or so to get the 5.1 decoding I've always regretted not having in my DVD.

I like the mission 700 range though! Used to have a pair of the original model :)


dave m
16th April 2002, 06:50
Tony, the 420 is a baby brother of the highly regarded 620, and is more than powerful enough to fill my 30 foot by 20 foot room. I hadn't heard of the 520 but assume it's somewhere in between. Note that the recommended selling price of the 420 is much lower than they quote for the 520, so the 520 probably is a higher spec.

I got mine from hifijunkies.co.uk before Christmas and I paid around 230 for it (they don't seem to stock it any more).

I've heard a number of stories of Richer Sounds trying to sell you their flavour of the month (often a Sherwood) regardless of what you went into purchase :)

I'm happy with the way the Yamaha sounds with music, but then we have the living room set up as a family listening room ie mostly home cinema. For serious music listening we kept our hifi and installed it in the study. The consensus seems to be that you can't get something for nothing and so a six channel 5.1 amp won't compete with a similarly priced 2 channel audiophile amp. I didn't compare it with the amp it replaced but am happy with the way it sounds. If it's something that worries you listen to music on the amp you're interested in before parting with your cash.



16th April 2002, 09:27

I'd recommend a Denon AVR-3802. Leaps and bounds better in all aspects than the Pioneer VSX-901s Pro-Logic I used before.
I don't bother with a sub. With my fronts that would be silly. Cewin-Vega D9 (102dB [1W @ 1m]. Nothing "down there" that they don't easily get and the Denon reproduces all sound cleanly and easily with no obvious stress during peaks. I don't know what the dynamic headroom spec would be but I suspect it would be high. It performs fine in any form of surround and very well in two channel too.
It works great with what I have hooked up to it and functions well as an A/V switcher too. I route all A/V through it.

36" Sony FD Trinitron Wega XBR KV-36XBR400 NTSC
-Component & S-video
Denon DVD-2800 progressive scan DVD Player
-Component, S-video & Optical
-S-video & analog audio
Matrox G200 Mystique (my G400Max died!)
CL SB Live Full
-S/PDIF & analog audio
FM from analog Cable TV hookup

Happy trails,

16th April 2002, 11:28
The 3802 is very nice, but I think it's a bit out of his price range wants. The 2802 should be sufficient, especially if he keeps his Rotel amp (which you should)...what is your price range anyway.

For my HT rig, I use the Denon 3802 as the preamp/tuner/decoder and does amplification ONLY on the center and rears. To power my fronts I run through a Rotel RB-1080 2x200W amp. Although I like my Denon, it can't compare to the Rotel in sound reproduction.

The only major differences between the 2802 and 3802 is the number of input/ouputs and the power rating. The 2802 should be more than sufficient to power a nice center and surrounds. Use the preamp outs to the Rotel amp. Or on whatever receiver you get...just make sure they have preamp outs so you can use the Rotel.


Denon AVR-3802 (http://www.denon.com/catalog/products.asp?l=1&c=2) | Rotel RB-1080 (http://www.rotel.com/products/rb1080.htm) | Rotel RCD-1070 (http://www.rotel.com/products/rcd1070.htm) | Fronts: B&W CDM 9NT (http://www.bwspeakers.com/products/gallery/product_details.cfm?speaker_id=419DBF1B-EF4D-11D3-B01E0000E20E7DA6) | Center: B&W CDM CNT (http://www.bwspeakers.com/products/gallery/product_details.cfm?speaker_id=419DBF09-EF4D-11D3-B01E0000E20E7DA6) | Surrounds: B&W CDm SNT (http://www.bwspeakers.com/products/gallery/product_details.cfm?speaker_id=419DBF0A-EF4D-11D3-B01E0000E20E7DA6) | Panasonic DVD-310A | Panasonic 27" TV (guess what gets replaced next?) | Audio Quest (http://www.audioquest.com/home.html) Diamonback interconnects, LAT International (http://www.latinternational.com/index.php3/page-20110.html) SS-In Wall and SS-1000 D Bi-Wired speaker cable

16th April 2002, 12:47
Yamaha RXV520 is quite qood and RXV620 too (620 does have better connectors for rear speakers).

Fat Tone
16th April 2002, 12:54
Looks like the Denon 2802 it a little out of my price range at ~550. I think I can justify 200 if I say it quickly!
The best price I can find the Yamaha 520 elsewhere is 250 but it looks like the x20 range has been superceeded by the x30 range.

Dave - how do you have yours set up? The specs call it a 5-channel amplifier (http://www.yamaha.fi/kuvat/news/Yamaha_RX-V520-V420.pdf) but it does have a separate subwoofer output. Does that count as true 5.1?


dave m
16th April 2002, 14:05
All home 5.1 amps have 5 channels of amplified sound and a line feed to an active ie self amplified subwoofer.

Most, including the Yamahas, will let you send that signal to your main/all speakers if you don't have a subwoofer yet.

So yes, it's a 5 channel amplifier, with a subwoofer unamplified output, that's a normal true 5.1 :)

I made the same mistake myself and had to persuade a significant other that I had to then spend even more on a Yamaha self powered sub. But you can feed the subwoofer output through your main speakers, it will be fine.

By the way, good luck in October, we got Charlotte (now six months) to fall asleep to low, womb-like rumbles from a Yamaha 205 subwoofer attached to the 420 amp :D


16th April 2002, 14:30
550 pounds for a 2802?!?! That's how much they cost USD (as in $550)!! Look into Yahmaha or the 1802. Seems like Denon is more expensive than usual over there.


Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 01:05
Dave - thanks for clearing that up. A sub would be a good addition when using stereo as the Kefs struggle low down. Actually the TV does a very good job down there, but that is disabled as soon as I use the external speakers :(
Thanks also for the extra justification for buying a sub ;)

Jammrock - thats often the way here. Pounds for dollars. Best price I saw was 527+del.

How long an optical lead can I buy? In one configuration I'll need 0.25m, in another I'll need 10-12m. And what should they cost?


[edit: typo]

17th April 2002, 02:20
Originally posted by Jammrock
For my HT rig, I use the Denon 3802 as the preamp/tuner/decoder and does amplification ONLY on the center and rears. To power my fronts I run through a Rotel RB-1080 2x200W amp. Although I like my Denon, it can't compare to the Rotel in sound reproduction.

Silly question here, but surely if you're using the Denon as the pre-amp, then the effect of using the Rotel as the power stage rather than the Denon is going to be marginal, on the basis of its only amplifying what the pre-stage has already done to the signal?
Unless you have a class A pre-amp stage, and the Denons power amp stage is class B or AB opposed to a Class A Rotel.

I think. Been a while since I did this sort of thing for a living.

Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 03:32
Looks like I'll be getting the RXV520RDS for 179.95 at lunch time (~1 hr)...last chance for anyone to object!

I'm jumping now because the model has been superceeded (hence the massive discount), I can't find it anywhere else for less than 250, and they don't have any centrally so its now or never.

Any advice on an optical cable before I go? My DVD has an phono output too - is that an option?


dave m
17th April 2002, 04:48
Either digital output should be fine, but if it's like the 420 the coaxial digital input is set by default to the CD channel, there's an option in one of the setup menus to assign it to the DVD. I've got both optical and coaxial digital ins setup and I can't distinguish the two.

I doubt you can get or afford a 12m optical connector, so if you need that length you'll want to use the coaxial. I'm just using a standard good quality phono lead, nothing specially "tuned" (read overpriced) for digital., though others may advise differently.


17th April 2002, 05:34

Yes and no. Putting in a higher class pre-amp would definately yield a better sound. The Denon was the only thing I could afford at the time, the Rotel was purchased later. The Denon's preamp stage is actually very clean and accurate, so I get a great sound. The main thing the Rotel does for me is handle the power hungry 9NT's.

The 9NT has a 1" tweeter, 6" kevlar mid and 2x6" paper/kevlar woofers that can hit some serious low stuff. What it boils down to is that Denon simply does not have the power to drive the speakers to peak performance. When I used the Denon as the amp, the mid's were soft and not that great, and the bass was almost non-exsistant. With the Rotel connected, the mid's are powerful and smooth, the bass rumbles, the high's are sweet and everything is generally more accurate and detailed.


Optical cables can run a long, long way. I wouldn't worry about going over it's length limit. Just make sure you get a cable good enough that the connector will not be loose. Loose connectors are very bad when dealing with optical. Second, keep the cables out of reach from kids and pets. Optical cables have a very fine, very fragile glass (mostly) core.

Make sure to use the preamp outs to your Rotel and you're set! Once you have it up and running, tell us how it sounds.


dave m
17th April 2002, 05:53
Jammrock, it's RichL who has the Rotel. Tony has a dead NAD so he'll just be using the Yamaha.

I hadn't realised optical cable was fragile, I'll keep mine tucked away from little fingers now!


Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 06:19
Well I got the amp. Richer Sounds say you can't get an optical cable longer than a couple of metres, which seems daft as they are so lossless. I bought a 0.75m optical cable for 20. They wanted the same money for a coax. He claimed the digital coax was 75 Ohm, but surely regular interconnects are 75 Ohm?

BTW, 12.5Kgs gets very heavy after a half mile walk!

Thanks for all the advice. I'll report on the experience later :)


dave m
17th April 2002, 06:41
Great, I was worried you'd get there and they wouldn't let you have it for the internet price. Most places won't do TOS Link cables longer than 3 metres, I guess because most people don't need them, but you can get a 10m one for 40 here:


Have fun tonight, what are you going to watch or should I say listen to first?

Yours must be beefier than mine, the 420 is only 9.5kg :D


Edit: tidied up url

Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 06:45
First I'll watch the wife breakdown when she hears the price, then I'll listen to her moaning about it for 6 weeks ;)

Guess I'll test it on The Lost World, as this was the first disc where I could really notice the difference when downmixing 5.1 :)

Thanks again.


PS maybe the box weighs 3 Kg? ;)

17th April 2002, 06:59
Jammrock, et al, the common grossly over priced optical cables are made with a plastic core... not glass

17th April 2002, 07:16
That's why I put (mostly) in my post ;) Now that I think about, most people don't say whether their cores are plastic or glass fiber. Guess I've been in telecom too long to think that people would dare use a plastic core. Either way, you have a thin fiber that's very suseptable to breaks and what not. Plastic could possibly be not as bad...but I've never compared the two.

Of course you could always use the super high grade fiber that runs $100 USD per foot. That stuff can be bent to less than a 10 degree angle before the fiber breaks. Nice stuff.


17th April 2002, 07:44
Jammrock, interconnects typically have a near infinite resistance at audio frequencies and are not rated impedence wise due to this. On the otherhand your typical RF coax is rated 75Ω because it's used with reactive wavelengths (also 52Ω coax, just not as common)

17th April 2002, 07:47
there's a huge difference between glass and plastic core optical cable... your avg plastic core is like... it's been awhile, ummm... 1.6mm... think that's right... anywho it's much more flexible :)

Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 07:47
This is a Cambridge Audio "Profressional Interconnect" :D . the core is pmma (polymethylmethacrylate).

Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 07:48
dia 1mm

17th April 2002, 07:52
OK then lets say 1-1.6mm... compared to what 0.1mm at best for glass?

17th April 2002, 12:14
The coax question was Tony's.

Like I said, I work in telecom where all cables are glass so the light can go several hundred km before they need to be regenerated. I just thought that a good TOSLink would be glass too. Maybe to more expensive ones are...I don't know. I'm too frustrated to care today.


Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 12:18
Whatever the core, these cables are WAY overpriced! Chill man :)

dave m
17th April 2002, 12:34
Well I've had a bad day too, a bloody greyhound just took out our 15 year old cat while it slept in the front garden. Needless to say our 7 year old son is completely distraught, I'm incredibly pissed off, and the miserable bastards who couldn't control it on the leash haven't had the decency to come back and see if the cat is still alive and/or apologise


How's the amp Tony?


Fat Tone
17th April 2002, 12:43
Sorry to hear that Dave. Must be awful.

The amp is looking nice in the middle of the lounge. The manual is 1" thick and we can't work out where to put the damn thing! (the amp ;) ) It's too tall to fit under the TV - it might just with some mods, but there wouldn't be much ventilation. I'm at home tomorrow pm for a delivery, so I'll be making some 'executive' decisions then ;)


17th April 2002, 19:29
My condolences, Dave..

Dog owners who revel in their pet's violent tendencies are a public menace. Time to visit that greyhound with a cricket bat, I say.


Congrats on getting the 520, Tony.. should be a great piece for the money. If you can't find any optical cables there, I think I can get some that are 6 meters in length for you if you must have them. You could use coaxial on the cable/DBS input if your DVD player has the coax output, as well.

Fat Tone
18th April 2002, 01:27
KvH - Thanks for the offer.

Having thought about it some more now I've actually had a little play, the 520 is going to have to stay by the TV or the number of cables running around the room is going to get ridiculous. My TV, cable, VHS & DVD boxes are connected by SCART. I also need to connect each of the devices (and my NAD CD player) to the 520 by phono leads or optical leads. I think I'll probably end up with the hifi cabinet near the TV stand, with the kit split between them somehow.

So far I'm pleased with the 520. Sound quality is immediately obviously so much better than through the TV, and the quick test I did with Planet of the Apes makes DTS seem much more detailed than Dolby digital. I have to admit that I don't have anywhere near the optimal setup yet (need better surrounds, a centre & a sub), but so far I am not regretting not having the NAD repaired :)


26th April 2002, 10:01
Just dredging this back up, cos I'm once again being nibbled by the DVD bug (Just picked up all of the Alien series for 10 each, Tombstone for 8 and Ronin for 9:) )

Tony, how are you finding the pure audio quality on your new Yamaha as opposed to the NAD?

I'm trying to justify spending the money to myself ;)

Fat Tone
26th April 2002, 10:56
Rich, this is somewhat subjective as I couldn't do a side-by side comparison :) but I'm very happy indeed with what I got for the money. My setup isn't ideal, and I don't have the sort of ears that can tell a 1000 system from a 800 system (or whatever, no flames please). I don't think my NAD ever sounded the same after it was repaired first time, so I would suggest you compare in a store, but the 520 does an awful lot for the money and to me the separation & clarity are very impressive. If you are interested you'll have to move quickly as the x20 range has been superceeded by the x30 range.

I've finally got all the kit side-by-side (at least until the wifey gets home as we really need a nice peice of furniture to put it in/on), so I'll be testing it with the NAD CD player later, with both its analogue & digital outputs! Roll on those extra speakers :)


dave m
26th April 2002, 11:20
Roll on those extra speakers

You need to be very careful Rich, you can't just buy an amp, you start by replacing your stereo amp, then you get sucked in, Tony's got the bug already and he's only had the amp a week :D


Fat Tone
26th April 2002, 14:30
"My name is Tony, and I have a problem" :D

26th April 2002, 14:58
eYUP!!!! It's too late for Tony.....LOL :eek: :D

26th April 2002, 18:08





26th April 2002, 21:12
Don't think it can't get serious, too.. one guy took out a $20,000 "business loan" for his small business, saying it was for an "A/V presentation room." When he actually bought an HD DLP projector and a $12,000 processor for his media room! I bet he's headed for bankruptcy again, poor guy.. :rolleyes:

Fat Tone
1st May 2002, 03:43
I've been trying to resist, but the pressure has got too much! I should be getting a KEF Cresta centre today for 40.

That should stave off the cravings for a while...:D


1st May 2002, 05:45

That's what YOU think! I said that too when I got my Denon and front speakers. Then again after I got my amp. Then again after I got the new CD player. Then again after I got my surrounds and center. Once more after I got new speakers cable... ;)


Fat Tone
1st May 2002, 05:52
:) Please, don't even say the word 'sub'...:D

Well I got the KEF. The base is a little scuffed, but the visible parts are fine. At 40 for a 100 TSP speaker I'm not complaining. The salesman said it actually cost them money to sell it to me at that price! :)

Jamm...it's capable of bi-wiring....any advice? :D

dave m
1st May 2002, 06:38


PS ... Sub

Fat Tone
1st May 2002, 07:16
Thanks for the support, Dave - now say it to my wife :D

dave m
1st May 2002, 07:43
Sorry Tony, I couldn't resist. Congrats on getting the centre for that price.


1st May 2002, 10:34
Bi-wiring is your friend! I run bi-wires to my fronts and my center. My surrounds are bi-wirable, but I didn't want to run double lengths @ 17 m a piece. The center channel is actually the cheapest to bi-wire and in HT a very important part.

I don't know if your store will setup the cable for you, but if not ... on the receiver end, tie all the commons (grounds, negatives, black wires) together and all the positives (red/colored wires) together. Hook them to the +/- on the receiver for the center. Take off the binding plates (the metal plates that connect the HF and LF speaker binds together). Hook up the respective positives and negatives and you are good to go. Get some decent cable for it too.

Is your center channel new, or is it a floor model or demo? Speakers and cables have a break-in period. Depending on the part, 10-150 hours. Until the break-in ends, things may sound a bit muddied and distorted. Bi-wiring will also help clear up muddy sound, especially muddy bass.


1st May 2002, 10:45
Okay, I'll bite. How can wire have a break-in period?

1st May 2002, 10:57
I've seen it stated that wire can have a 40 to 100 hr break-in.

40 hrs for copper and 100 hrs for alloys and silver.

Hmmmm does that mean there is a break-in period for computers and hardware too???????

Darn!!! another 30 hrs before my new Hard Drive is broken in.....ROFL!!!!!


Fat Tone
1st May 2002, 12:11
I think it had just been in the window for a long time as the base is rather scuffed. There are no marks on the binding plates to give away any usage. I'll try the bi-wiring as I have lots of this cable (I bought a 100m reel when wiring up the whole room before having a carpet fitted). It's nothing exotic, just heavy multistrand copper. I don't think with my ears/room/kit that any really expensive stuff is justified. The wire is new of course, so I'll wait a while before passing judgement :D
Can the average man tell the difference with bi-wiring on equipment like this?

Cheers, T.

1st May 2002, 14:01
Greebe and I had a nice long talk about cable break-in. I suppose whether it does or doesn't depends on who you talk to ;) I'm honestly not experienced enough in audiophilia, magnetic/electronic theory or auditory research to give any great scientific feedback. Needless to say, like everyhting else in the audiophile world, this is yet another topic of great debate.


1st May 2002, 15:34
and I ensured him that it's nothing but marketing psychobabble ;)
(and explained what, why and how)

1st May 2002, 15:48

1st May 2002, 23:03
hmm...on copper cable low frequency/dc currrent run through the bulk of the cable(core). At higher frequencies(RF) the currents are restricted to the surface of the cable.

So for audio cables the current will be running through the core of the cable and not suseptible to any changes in conductivity likley to occur over a year(unless you have thin wires and you *cook* your cables)

But possiblely the junction between the cable and the binding posts may undergo some chemical reaction between the copper/oxide/other metal interfaces.

This reaction could either improve the connection, or may make it worse(etc..oxide layer)
The kind of reaction will certainly occur faster in ther presence of large currents and maybe heat

Though it is rarley used any more wirewrap circuits(no solder just wires wrapped around metal posts) tend toward lower resistances over time as the wire slower reacts to the post, as opposed to solder which will usually remain stable or degrade over time.

But I would think gold plated posts any reaction will only occur on the cable.

2nd May 2002, 05:43
Or they could just tell you the cable sounds best after a few days worth of use, so they have something to fob you off with when you complain your brand new 10 a meter cable doesnt sound any different to the 1 a meter stuff you had before. :)

Does anyone sell 'already run-in' cables for an extra charge? I bet someone does...

Fat Tone
2nd May 2002, 06:05
:) I'm prepared to sacrifice some extremely well run-in cables in return for new gold plated cables + all shipping & handling costs - but thats just the kind of generous chap I really am :D

2nd May 2002, 06:27
HAHAHAHAHA...I came up with a fun little theory about cable break-in while under the influence of ice cream and Shaherazade! This is lengthy, so be warned!

[puts on asbestos suit]

*AHEM* First off, computers and other digital media would not have a break-in period. Digital only requires a 0 (0 V) or a 1 (commonly 1.5, 3.3 or 5 V) within a tolerence to be able to operate properly. Analog, on the oher hand, is a completely different beast. High-end speakers are capable if sonically reproducing even the most minut detail to giant bass explosions. Therefore, even suttle changes in the signal can cause changes in the sound reproduction...on high-end equipment.

Now let's ponder the how a signal is transfered across a cable. It is obviously not done by the electrons zipping through the cable. Electrons have mass (however small) and are traveling through a solid metal mass, so the electrons actually creep through the cable, taking hours to days to reach from one end to the other (don't argue with it, it's true...). Although charges will travel faster along the surface of the material, it is still not "at the speed of light" or instantanious.

So how does the signal transfer from amp to speaker across the cable? Electromagnetic waves! Any flow in electrons (basically electricity) causes magnetic fields. The larger the voltage, the larger the field. Since fields in speaker cable are dependent upon whether power is applied, it is electromagnetic. Anyway...

With that information understood, we can continue with the basis of the cable break-in theory. Think of the old grade school magnet and needle trick. Take a plain, unmagnetized needle and put it on a good strength horseshoe magnet. Suddenly the needle shows magnetic properties and you can pick up other needles with it. Leave the needle on the magnet for a long period of time (dependent on the strength of the magnet) and eventually, the magnetic fields in the needle align and the needle becomes itself magnetized. For example, leave the needle on the magnet for 2 days, take it off the magnet and you will be able to pick up other needles with the magentically altered needle, without the influence of the horseshoe magnet.

Now let's apply this basic theory to the signal in speaker cable. Speaker cables out of the factory are like the plain needle. The magnet field properties are netrual and scattered. When a signal from and amp is applied, an electromagnetic field is generated around the cable (basic physics). Like the needle in the experiment, over time the magnetic fields will shift and align accroding to the movement of the electromagnetic fields in the cable. As the magnetic fields align in the cable over time, the properties of the signal will change in accordance to the flux in the electromagnetic pulses. And like the needle, eventually the cable's magnetic field properties will settle in after a certain time period.

Now, since high-end speakers are capable of reproducting even the most minut detail, these slight shifts in the magnetic field will gradually change the sound reproduced by the speakers, until complete magnetic field alignment is achieved within the cable! Will the cable become magnetized, per say? No! There is too much metal for a simple electrical pulse to magnetize the cable. Is there enough juice to actually cause magnetic field shift and alignment? I bet an nice 50-200 W signal would the job nicely.

And there you have it! The theory of cable break-in!!!

[Jammrock puts his hands in the air and does the asbestos suit dance]

Jammrock :p

2nd May 2002, 07:11
Errr, is Copper magnetic? I dont think so, but I cant remember that far back to my school science lessons!

I tried a quick experiment using the speaker from my desktop PC and an old 1p peice (new ones arent copper) and I'd say it isnt.

2nd May 2002, 07:56
Okay Jammy, that was funny. I should send it to my old physics professors. One keeps a "Hall of Impossibilities," and about 90% of it is dedicated to audio BS.

dave m
2nd May 2002, 07:57
No copper isn't, but by running a current through it you can induce a magnetic field in something ferrous that it's wrapped around i.e. an electromagnetic


2nd May 2002, 08:06
*sigh* copper isn't naturally magnetic, BUT because of its high conductivity it will produce electromagnetic fields when current is passed through it. There is a difference between a 'natural' magnet and an electromagnet. Copper is probably the most common metal used for electromagnets because it cheap, maliable and conducts electricity well.

As a side note: I could really care less whether speaker cables or analog sound cables have a break-in period. My only care when it comes to audio is that it sounds damn good ;) While I was listening to my music yesterday I merely began pondering whether there could be a scientific basis for cable break-in. Ye old brain came up with said theory.

There is more to it than I wrote, but that covers the base, and I don't think anyone here really cares for the full story. But I suppose it shows that it can be reasoned that cable break-in is possible. At least in my own twisted world :D I'll break out my old physics texts and do some more research to make sure my theories are sound or not later.


2nd May 2002, 08:34
Now let's ponder the how a signal is transfered across a cable. It is obviously not done by the electrons zipping through the cable. Electrons have mass (however small) and are traveling through a solid metal mass, so the electrons actually creep through the cable, taking hours to days to reach from one end to the other (don't argue with it, it's true...). Although charges will travel faster along the surface of the material, it is still not "at the speed of light" or instantanious.

This whole paragraph is way off. Better hit those books pretty hard.

2nd May 2002, 09:22
Yes and no. Depends on what theory you follow on how electrons and energy work. I'll do some digging later. Been too damn busy to do actual research. Like I said, I'll hit the books later ;-)

And yes that part has been greatly revised in my head as I have pondered it the past few hours. Nothing happens overnight ya know.


2nd May 2002, 09:34
Depends on what theory you follow on how electrons and energy work.You can't say that without expounding. Oh, wise one, what alternative theory do you have running around in your head?

2nd May 2002, 10:06
As Paul shakes the copper electrons out of his head :confused:
and has more coffee :cool:

I don't think I ever noticed or claim to have heard a difference from cables being broken in.

Although some "Audiophile Experts" claim there is. I think they just like to read their own BS correct or not.....LOL

Also what happens if you turn the cable around so the nice little arrows the MFGs put on the insulation point the oppostite direction (towards the Amp)....."Nothing" Mine still sound the same.

I have noticed a difference in switching from a single run of cable to bi-wiring my speakers and have heard new speakers warm up a bit after a period of time. And I have heard a difference going from Home Depot 12 gauge to my present cable and interconnects.

No Wait!!!!! The last of the copper electrons buzzing around in my head sound much fuller, have better separation and a greater soundstage after 40 hrs.......Really :D :D :D :D


2nd May 2002, 11:13
HAHAHAHAHA...wise...me...hahahahahahaha...only in a few things...

It's been so long since I've dived this deep into this crap. I've seen field/wave theories, charge theories, particle theories and combinations of those three to explain electricity, transfer of energy and the like. The standard fair is obviously electrons moving through a conductive material, yadda, yadda. I was reminded of something about that after my post, just haven't gone back in to revise.

Field theory, like Tesla's HAARP. Energy transfered through magnetic/energy fields. HAARP is fun to study if you have some time.

Charge theory is an oddball. Can't remember it that well.


2nd May 2002, 11:33
Originally posted by dave m
No copper isn't, but by running a current through it you can induce a magnetic field in something ferrous that it's wrapped around i.e. an electromagnetic


Well obviously, duh! ;)

But as copper isnt magnetic and only forms an electromagnetic field when a current is passed through it, how can it retain any form of magnetic alignment when the power is off?
Hence, how can it be 'broken in'?

Once, I understood what I wanted to say at the start of this post. :)

Fat Tone
2nd May 2002, 11:47
Think electron holes...

2nd May 2002, 12:23
Electron holes are normal. AKA ionization.

Now, if you're thinking electron <I>winds</I>, well I don't see them affecting anything so large as a speaker wire.

Fat Tone
2nd May 2002, 12:44
I'm refering to the way a signal travels down a conductor. An electron doesn't pop in one end and fight its way to the other. What actually happens is an electron 'hole' travels from -ve to +ve, each electron only moves from one position to the next.

At least thats what I remember from those lectures 13 years ago. Jamm, hand me that suit please :)

2nd May 2002, 13:27
Yay, Tony gets it.

2nd May 2002, 20:53
electrical current in metals(copper) is entierly by electron flow.
Metals are said to have a "sea" of electrons, that is the outer electrons do not bind strongly to the nucleus/atoms but flow quite easily around the metal, the atoms kind of share their electron.

electron holes are only used to descibe current flow in semiconductors, where you have junctions that use postive charges/currents(as you know electron are negative):p

2nd May 2002, 21:11
eYUP!!!!! Holy Gate Oxide Batman:D :D :D


Fat Tone
3rd May 2002, 00:49

3rd May 2002, 03:56
Does anyone want to tell us what (they think) will happen when you have a cable with extruded grain copper such as the highest end Audioquest copper cables? Some of these are so refined that a single "grain" will run the whole length of the cable. Please expound upon what you think a "grain" might be, as well. Paul?

I make no claims upon being a physicist. I got an "A" in high school physics, but that was about as far as I got.. and I did a brain dump after the final.. :p

3rd May 2002, 06:45
Best analogy I can think of for peeps to relate to is a grain of wood... if it runs the entire length the wood is much stronger than if it's full of knots (tho not the only important aspect). This is very true when looking for Aircraft grade spruce used in wing spars... electrically in wires (and the like) this reduces the impurities and incongruent structure that much further and thus has even less resistance than your standard oxygen free high grade cables that are anamorphic.

Another example also applies to titanium used in jet engine rotors... greatly improves strength and thus reduces micro fractures which if not in the end will destroy an engine

3rd May 2002, 09:48
I haven't done much research on this except that it is "supposed" to lower impedance, reduce the "skinning effect", etc...

The "oxygen free" thing just means the exposed copper won't oxidize as fast.

They're doing all kinds of things to wire these days (Extruded Single grain, Cryogenic treatments,alloys, silver plating, etc.)

Hmmmm....Is this like single grain - nope that's single malt scotch :D :D :D


3rd May 2002, 13:42
I sure glad my ears aren't good enough to hear the difference with all this crap. I've got my B&W DM601S2s hooked up with Home Depot 16 gauge lamp wire ($39.99/500' spool), and they sound mighty fine to me.

3rd May 2002, 21:17
I think when you talk about "grain" in copper it means it is a single crystal of copper. Yes it does sound weird but when all the copper atoms pack together in there crystalline structure its said to be a grain. the boundaries of these "grains"are imperfections in the crystal structure , usually steps and spiral dislocation of a layer copper atoms.

But the thing is they may very well make a copper cable with one grain, but as soon as you bend the cable you are inducing those dislocation that break up the "grain".

The same thing is dong with steel/iron. work hardening (or shot peening) introduces heaps of the disloactions etc. the thing with steel and most metals is that when you add the dislocations it increases the "hardness" of the material (but it becomes more brittle). These disloactions do interupt electron flow,
in a semiconducter a desloaction can actually trap electrons

the oxgen free is all about the purity of the copper, oxygen and all other impurities will break up the crystalline structure.

skining of current to the surface of a conducter only occurs at high frequency (think MHZ), at thos frquencies current only travels on the surface of the conductor. I can't see how it caould be even remotely important at audi frequencies. even tho the cables might be "oxygen free" the will have an oxide layer on the surface of the copper wire(a minimal one since it is coated in plastic)

3rd May 2002, 21:38
No, it's not talking about a single crystal. Despite (likely) prohibitive costs, even if its possible, it would be impractical, if not useless, to have a single crystal structure of copper in your audio wiring. The whole thing would be undone the second you turned a corner and shattered the structure.

Skin effect does indeed happen at all frequencies, but it's not important for most people, and acts differently depending on what you're focusing on. In uP, we care about it all the time. So do your power companies, of all people. Those big power lines? Aluminum wrapped in copper. The copper provides the best place for the electricity to flow, and the aluminum reduces weight and cost.

4th May 2002, 00:04
All normal metallic copper does have crystalline lattice structure(poly crystilline). The largest "crystal" of a soon was in physics department at uni, it was a one inch diameter copper puck(on display with caption), just looked like a lump copper to me but it was very pure. The were using similar stuff for some experiment

crystalline but not brittle

I think you are right, the trouble of trying to produce that for just speaker wiring is rediculous, any good gauge copper cable will do the job(to match the current output of your amp), your connectors can make more difference, as they are the "weakest link"

Fat Tone
6th May 2002, 08:32
Last night I watched Moulin Rouge, using the DTS soundtrack. It was fantastic! The film was really goog (IMHO), and the audio experience was superb. Buying this amp & a centre was definately the way to go :)

I also watched Sixth Day (which was what you would expect from one of Arnold's films) and was quite impressed by the audio track. Proper 5.1 is so much better than the Pro Logic I've 'had to put up with' (aka been using) until now.


dave m
6th May 2002, 09:35
Glad your pleased :)
Any other tweaking you can think of to give further/substantial improvement? :D


Fat Tone
6th May 2002, 09:39
A SUBstantial improvement? for a boomBASStik sound? Nope. Got me. :D

6th May 2002, 12:23
Glad to hear your HT is sounding good!

I watched Star Wars: The Phantom Plot last night with me pappy. He wanted the volume cranked, for a true theater experience. Talk about a killer sound track, even thought it's ONLY in Dolby Digital EX ;) There were parts where my 9NT's were pushing so much bass that I could feel the air exploding from the bass ports from 2 m away! I can only imagine what it would sound like with a real sub...for now :D


Fat Tone
11th June 2002, 03:25
Can anyone say SUB? :D

I'm running out of time to get a sub (19.5 weeks - 8 weeks confinement ;) ) So can anyone suggest a decent one for under 100.

I see Richer Sounds now have the Aiwa TSW37 for 36 - even cheaper than their own Gale SW5 at 50. I'm guessing the proverbial broomstick will be mentioned here, but the next option is 100+.



Fat Tone
3rd September 2002, 02:02
I can say SUB!

My b'day treat is a Yamaha YST-SW105, which should go nicely with the amp. Should be arriving today :) Cost 125 mail order.


3rd September 2002, 04:15
Cool :up:

I'm thinking of getting a Nakamichi AV10 to replace my Rotel RA820bx as both AV/Hi-Fi amp (pending a back to back listening test) and possibly replacing my Castle Trent speakers with either Mission 773e's & a seperate Sub or Mission 704a's with built in 120w subs. They're both the same price from Richer Sounds, although with the 773's I'd have to buy a Sub also.

Space considerations mean the 704s would be better, but the reviews I've read rate the 773's very highly and the 704s as not being quite so good.

3rd September 2002, 05:52
check out http://www.whathifi.com/buyguide_front.asp ... :)

3rd September 2002, 06:59
Cheers Maggi, but I already tried there : they dont list the reveiws as such on their site.

I've been using Audio Review (http://www.audioreview.com/) recently, although it does tend to be biased towards US Spec products and have an annoying number of people who spend $000's on equipment and post reviews like "This Rox! 5*'s!!!"

3rd September 2002, 07:02
true, but whatever shows up in that list, is worth its money ... :)