View Full Version : Audio Cable question

4th October 2002, 04:58
I got a question...

I'll describe my setup here first...

I have my PC connected to an Aiwa XA-950 stereo amp (I have NEVER seen any opinion on this thing, but they stopped producing components the year after I bought my Amp & Cassette Deck - anyone know anything about that?). Connected to that is a Teufel M80/825 (http://www.teufel.de/fra_m80.htm) (link in german) sub/sat system. It's connected the way they are suggesting when I only have stereo outputs: Connect the speaker outs into the (passive) sub's left and right inputs, and connect the satellites to those same jacks as well. The sub only plays the low freq's, the sats only the higher ones.

There are two other methods I could use: connect the sats to the amp, then the sub to the sats, or connect the sats to speaker pair A outputs, and the sub to speaker pair B outs. I can use them both at the same time.

Now my questions are: Which would be the best method to connect this stuff? (They are MADE for being connected that weird)

And: I only use very very thin, no-name cables. I'm not going to spend 100 EUR on cables, but would, say, 2.5mm<SUP>2</SUP> make a noticeable difference? And are there any cheap, (reasonably, I don't need gold cables as thick as my arm) good cables you would recommend?

Oh, and the last question: My cables from the PC, CD player, and tapedeck to the amp are the ones that came with them, or very cheap ones I bought (the one from the PC is over 3 meters long). Will there be any discernable difference in sound quality if I use other (not high-end priced) cables there?

Thanks anyone :)


4th October 2002, 05:24

You sound like a man after my own heart - searching for halfway decent audio fidelity, but not wanting to become a REAL AUDIO GEEK (tm).

So, to answer your questions...

Whether it's better to hook em up in parallel, in serial, or on channel B is a no-brainer. Unless running channel B kills the power to channel A (or drains it severely), you're gonna wanna run it off Channel B. Newer amps of course have a subwoofer output. I would never run two "sets" of speakers (the subwoofer is a "set") from the same plugs. That's just asking for distortion.

Wires - the thin cheap cables are lousy. Not just because they sound bad, but because one good kick with a rock stuck to your foot, or one good swipe from a kitten's claws, and they're gone.

You _will_ hear a difference switching to decent cable. Go to your local stereo store (or electronics store) - I realize you don't have Circuit City in Germany - and just get some decent cable. Like monster cable... you know, a couple millimetres. We have "gauges" here. So you can get "14 gauge" or "16 gauge" (decent enough) or "12 gauge" (which probably won't even FIT in the plugs on the back of an AIWA but which I use for my car amp due to the high current traveling through car stereo wires, and the interference of a metal chassis).

As for the connectors from computer and/or components to amp. In this case the difference might not be so great to your ears, but getting decent cable (which is usually gold-plated, although we can argue THAT particular "innovation" a different time) isn't half bad. Again, it won't break your budget (usually about $6 - $10 USD for a decent stereo cable, gold plated, from a good maker - although note that Monster(tm) cable is a ripoff in patch cables).

- Gurm

P.S. It is ESPECIALLY important to have good patch cable over those long runs (3 metres? That's like 10 feet, yeah?).

4th October 2002, 05:59
The amp does put out 150W/channel at 8 ohms, or 100W at 4, if I only use one pair. It'll do 100W/channel at 8 ohms if I use two pairs, I think.

Both the amp and the speakers will take any cable up to 5mm<SUP>2</SUP>, so I should be on the safe side.

Yes, 3 meters are about 10 feet, but I think I need more like 12-14 feet of cable. Same length for the speakers.


4th October 2002, 07:45
...ya got my head spinning there. First off, I think Aiwa belongs somewhat secretly to Sony and they use it for experimental products and marketing. Everything Aiwa I've had was good.

Which Devil did you get, the Concert or the Cinema?

4th October 2002, 09:22
First off, I think Aiwa belongs somewhat secretly to Sony
hehe, sorta reminded me of all your stuff are belong to us! :D

4th October 2002, 09:38
Gurm's got it pretty well. Definitely put the sub on channel B. Replacing the speaker wire will help. Some 14 or even 16 gauge copper wire would be a good choice. If you were in the US Greebe could throw a couple of good sales links to you, but he might still know of something over there.

With nice equipment you can definitely hear the difference if you replace the interconnect cables between the components. I tried to look up your amp, but all the results I found were in Russian, so I have no idea what the equipment is like. You can get 1m of decent interconnect for about $35. That's what I have between my CD player and amp, and it does seem to help. Do the speaker wiring first, and if you're feeling a little experimental, get some good wiring and try just switching out the CD-Amp interconnect.

4th October 2002, 09:40
I'm pretty sure Aiwa aren't belong to Sony...

- Gurm

4th October 2002, 10:22
You sound like a man after my own heart - searching for halfway decent audio fidelity, but not wanting to become a REAL AUDIO GEEK (tm). I wonder if I fall into that catagory...probably.

Monster cable is okay, but you can get better cables for a bit more. I'm not asking you to go out and grab a $1000 USD pair of interconnects (yes they exist), but something a bit nicer than Monster.

Many of the REAL AUDIO GEEKS (tm) at MURC prefer Audio Quest cables. They are big enough that I'm sure they have international dealerships. You will need to go to an audio specialty store to get them, but if you ask them nicely they will usually knock down the price a little. For speaker cable, a Type-4 (http://www.audioquest.com/products/type4.html) will work well and not cost a lot. If you want to go a few steps up, the CV-4 (http://www.audioquest.com/products/cv-4.html) sounds really nice and as still only a bit more money than the better Monster cable wire.

When it all comes down to it, your best bet is probably to find an stereo store in town and ask them what they have. Many stores will allow you to borrow equipment to test it out on your system, or at least test it out in the store.


4th October 2002, 12:31
...Head of Sony Broadcast told me that. Could be they've spun it off in the meantime.

...or maybe it wasn't true...:)

4th October 2002, 12:52
Aiwa will be a subsidiary of Sonyīs as of dec. 1 2002

4th October 2002, 13:11
you could also look for QED cables.
They are of English origin and supposed to be very good.

www.mediacraft.de sells them.

Be aware that regardless if you connect a second speaker set (like a sub) to the second output the impedance will be a product of the total load. Two sets of 8 ohms rated speakers wil result in a total load of 4 ohms provided proper fasing.

A speaker set nominally rated as 8 ohms will most likely under music reproduction go down to 2-4 ohms, if not less.
This means that, with two sets, there will be a massive drain of power from the amp. If your amp isnīt up to the task, i.e. canīt deliver the power needed, you should consider another solution, e.g. a second power amp for the sub.


4th October 2002, 13:43
Here's a good page (http://www.sundial.net/~rogerr/wire.htm) by Roger Russell (former Director of Acoustic Research at McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.) on the myths of speaker cabling. Get yourself some 16-gauge lamp wire from the hardware store for the equivalent of about US$0.10/ft, and it'll sound just as good as those $1000 interconnects.

Also, definitely go with the channel B connections. :D

4th October 2002, 15:47
Jammy, Rubank: thanks, but that's too high-end for me - I'm poor, and I certainly don't have golden ears :)

I'll be reading that McIntosh guy's article now :)


4th October 2002, 16:34

Are talking about what you can actually hear now?

Thatīs a totally different matter!


4th October 2002, 17:25
Thanks Agallag, that was very insightful :)

Wonder what KvH has to say about this one ;)

Anyone has a table of gauge vs. mm<sup>2</sup>?

(I am right in assuming that the article states I could rip the power cord off my radio and use that as a speaker cable, and it will sound good, provided it's thick enough?)


4th October 2002, 19:01
I was thinking to get some no-name cables between 13 and 14 gauge.


4th October 2002, 21:31
The amount you spend on your cables should be no more than 10% of your entire system...

5th October 2002, 07:23
I will NEVER spend a few hundred Euros on my cables :)

I've just seen 20m of 13-14 gauge cable for 1 euro on ebay :)


5th October 2002, 10:34
I'm using some 16-gauge lamp wire to connect my B&W 601 speakers, and they sound FANTASTIC. Easily as good as they sounded in the store with expensive cable. It also only costs about $1 more to bi-wire them, which in my opinion makes more of a difference than expensive cables ever would. 13-14 gauge wouldn't make much difference, but if you found some cheap, go for it.

5th October 2002, 11:07
20 meters for one euro doesn't sound all too expensive to me ;)


6th October 2002, 01:08
...interesting... nobody mentioned what counts for speakers.

- copper quality for conductivity
- strand count, or otherwise put, finer strands for frequency & transients
- insulation quality for protection and moisture (corrosion) resistance

For 10 m, good lamp cable will do fine. There is loss over long distances at high wattage, that's why most speaker systems today are active.

My JBL cinema system has relatively small, high qualitycable with phase-keyed connectors. On the stereo I have lamp cord size speaker cable with transparent insulation and a red phase stripe. It's all much more than adequate.

A lousy cable, small or fat, is still lousy. If you are wiring a disco, you might want something thicker in a good quality. If you are wiring a rock concert with thousand watt amps and monster insturment speakers, better go for the professional big stuff.

Otherwise, you are just spending money to impress yourself. :p