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Topic: A question about audio cables.  (Read 1134 times) previous topic - next topic
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Re: A question about audio cables.

Reply #25
Thank you, all.

The real information about cables of various kinds and how they work is actually  much more interesting than audio mythology.

On this would xyzee cable be a "better" cable for audio thing, according to audiophiles, sometimes... yes. There are those who use, for instance, various configurations of CATlatest networking cable, because they are convinced it will lend some magic quality to audio. It may add magic qualities to networking, because it is backed by decades of research and development specifically aimed at producing cable that does networking "better." Not for magic, but for real.

Then there are the people who use networking cables for... networking. The ones who are convinced that they must use CATlatest, because it's not data, it's music. And that's difficult.

And I'd like to see "audiophile" network cables come with certificates. And you can buy individually-tested and certified fly leads from one of the few audio-cable companies that I believe in supporting.

Odd. And perhaps slightly embarrassing. As a jack-of-all-trades small/mid-compny systems manager (good at sys admin, but no kind of actual engineer), I joined a lot of machines together with various networking flyleads (the stuff in the walls, though, was done by real pros, and tested) and it took an article from BlueJeans to make me aware that  many of the CATsomething flyleads I used were  probably CATnothing. Apart from occasional actual failures, though... it all worked. And what that says to me is that the protocols and methods of twisted-pair networking are so rubust they work even if the cable is below par.

But audiophiles think they need something special, because it carries "music."

(This has been my regular cable rant, repeated for the dozenth time)

(And no, if I'd been running a data centre, I would not have nipped to the local shop if I'd run short of flyleads. But I wasn't. And many of them would have worked if I had been)

The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Re: A question about audio cables.

Reply #26
The most important difference a network cable can make in an audio installation, is probably dependent on whether it is a shielded cable or an unshielded one. And this is not because of the shielding itself, but because of the ground connection the shield creates.

Without the shielding, the little transformers in each ethernet node would make the network connection galvanically isolated, which is usually a very good thing in an audio installation, particularly those with unbalanced analog connections. A shielded network cable may create another ground connection to form a loop, which then injects noise into your analog audio connections. The networking part, however, will be unaffected.

So there's a real chance that the overall sound will change because of a different network cable, but it won't have anything to do with CATanything, but with the grounding. Not knowing what's going on, the average audiophile will see it as evidence that the audiophile cable makers are right.

For people wiring up a networked audio system, my advice would be to be conscious of grounding, and keep a few unshielded network cables around in case a ground loop needs breaking.

Re: A question about audio cables.

Reply #27
A device compliant with Ethernet standards must already be galvanically isolated, so shielded network cables should not be able to make ground loops.


Re: A question about audio cables.

Reply #28
Only the data lines are required to be galvanically isolated, not the shielding. The shielding is connected on both ends of a cable, and the sockets typically connect to the metal case of the device. That makes continuous ground connections.

Re: A question about audio cables.

Reply #29
You should probably just not use shielded cable since it's unnecessary at best and at worst can actually cause problems.

Re: A question about audio cables.

Reply #30
As a datacenter network architect I have to say that the biggest reason we have advancing standards in cabling is due to the constant move forward in transmission speed, nothing more. As we go faster, there is greater risk for errors in transmission, hence the more twists, more sheilding etc etc.... Or higher quality optical fibre...

My point here is that in the network world, better cables exist to solve genuine problems and make way for future advances.

However I find in the audio world, better cables are created to try and get the most from technology thats been the same for years and years and years and in most cases companies are taking advantage of an obsession that 'audiophiles' have. This is why you can buy speaker cables for over £500 that are 3m long.... Or digital cables that cost the earth. I saw a second hand 'brand name 'audiophile' 1m optical TOSLink cable for sale the other day for £80.....


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