AudioQuest Cable Theory and Cable Designs

msgmsg Posts: 3,609
edited December 2017 in 2 Channel Audio
A friend sent me a set of AudioQuest Slate cables a while back to play with. I was planning to re-terminate them, going from bi-wire to fullrange/standard.

I didn't know anything about these cables, nor much about AudioQuest at all before, thinking they were just like any other plain-jane speaker cable I've ever messed with.
After disassembly last night, I noticed a few things that piqued my curiosity.
  1. These cables use solid core conductors
  2. These cables use differing gauge conductors
After some reading, I learned that this is one of AudioQuest's Circular Array Series cables. The cables also supposedly use different kinds of copper in the different conductors.
yd5j2mgkucr6.png

Talk about a rabbit hole, I stumbled across all kinds of AudioQuest Documentation
My head's swimming a bit with this stuff, so I'm taking a little break, but I was wondering whether any of you AudioQuest fans know much about these designs, or have spent much time learning about some of these principles in cable design.

I've left off for the moment with the "Understanding Bi-wiring" document. AudioQuest seems to make a strong case for bi-wiring in isolating the paths for treble and bass signals.
In short, they say that the magnetic field generated by the higher current bass signal muddies up the path for the treble signal delivery, and that providing a path for isolation smooths the path for the upper frequencies, allows bass to be delivered with force, and, further, that this separation actually helps with bass definition, because that bass definition is actually located in the mids and higher frequencies, which now have a clearer pathway.

Interesting so far.
I originally just wanted to re-terminate these cables as a full range set, but seems a bit of a waste of what this cable was designed to do. This Circular Array Series isn't supposed to be as good at isolation as the Flatrock Series. Thinking perhaps it was an earlier design.

Quick side question here - I noticed that the conductor pairs on the speaker side of these cables were twisted before the banana plug connector. I've seen wire twisted before sometimes, but I'm not sure why this is done. What does this do? Is it just to help guard against electromagnetic contamination and signal bleed in/out? I noticed on the amp side that the 8 conductors were not twisted, just split to 4ea and fed straight into the connector. So, when should wire be twisted, and when should it be left straight?
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Comments

  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 8,301
    edited December 2017
    A little word vimit Scott :p

    Ok i bought older Mammoth AQ speaker cables that were Doros. I will save you time and hassle. Find some gold plated crimp tubes it made it so much easier. All those different gages if wire are a pita to get to stay in a banana or spade. The littlest like to break off at the connector. They are not fun to reterminate. AQ wants a but t load to do it or they did in my case.
    I just stripped back quite a bit so all the wires could be shoved in the crimp tube and stick out the end crimped then trimmed off excess sticking out the end. It may be beneficial to actually solder the tube in the connector. My screw down bananas i had to make sure the crimp side was on bottom so the screws could bite into the uncrimped side to get a good tight bite. Then again those Mammoths were a 9 gage cable and the bananas i had to get had a large hole to accommodate. You may be lucky enough to find a tighter fit so the screws bite good.
    Good luck

    Edit Mammoth was not a DBS cable
    They twist usually for bananas and do not to crimp spades on to get a good crimp. It can be hard to crimp a twisted set of wires in those gages. Smaller thinner twisted wire is much easier to crimp on to as it smashes into the crimp tightly.
  • msgmsg Posts: 3,609
    hehe, you know they make medicine for short attention spans now, right? :dizzy:

    ahhhh, yes, I vaguely remember reading about crimp tubes a while back. That's a good idea in this case.

    And this is what crimp tubes are for? Small, fine wire situations, where set screws on a connector don't offer enough bite, or would damage fine strands, or where a single crimp wouldn't be enough to hold a fine wire?

    I did notice that the finer strands did not seem properly terminated inside the existing connectors on these cables. They seemed loose.

    Where do you get audio quality crimp tubes?

    Re: the twisting - I actually meant longer sections of conductors themselves over a length of like the 6-8" sticking out past a cable barrel. Not just the ends where they'd feed into a connector. I sometimes see it inside amps, preamps, etc., as well. You know what I mean?
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 8,301
    Scott i do not remember where i got the tubes from. I googled and found a site i think they were .65 a piece i bought a bunch of different sizes one day i may have a need again you know how it goes. They were not say WBT or any big name brand. They were just gold plated insulated copper crimp tubes. I had it bookmarked at work but when they switched out my pc i lost all of it sorry man.
  • msgmsg Posts: 3,609
    Haha, nice!
    Thanks! yeah those are the ones I remember you guys talking about!
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 8,817
    edited December 2017
    Won't make any difference in the sound quality.
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 8,301
    lightman1 wrote: »
    Won't make any difference in the sound quality.

    Nope but it holds the tiny strands of cable Audioquest used tightly. They do not like to play friendly with the bigger strands and also get cut by set screws if that is what the bananas have.
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 8,817
    Cables don't matter, Ivan. We've been through this countless times.....
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 8,817
    cz8urrtlw77q.jpg
  • soundfreak1soundfreak1 Posts: 2,771
    Can't speak to their "theory" but have enjoyed the king cobras I've used for years, also used their "bulk" purchase solid core to make phono cables and ic with good results.
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  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 8,648
    lightman1 wrote: »
    e5bgop0qlxm4.jpg

    Easy peezy, Scott.....

    Russ, you been digging around in Doc Hardy's goody box???
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  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 8,817
    txcoastal1 wrote: »
    lightman1 wrote: »
    e5bgop0qlxm4.jpg

    Easy peezy, Scott.....

    Russ, you been digging around in Doc Hardy's goody box???

    An ample supply to be had there.
    dkfreebird wrote: »
    Something he had left over from the good old days. ;)

    We just used twigs from all them NC trees.... B)
  • delkaldelkal Posts: 78
    When the OP redoes his cables he should cut them shorter and use the excess to rewire his speakers next time he recaps / upgrades them.

    Has to sound better..................right?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,617
    lightman1 wrote: »
    e5bgop0qlxm4.jpg

    Easy peezy, Scott.....

    Here and I thought that you haven't been here yet!
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 28,034
    MSG,

    All I can tell you is, AQ makes a decent cable but I am glad your getting your read on with cable design and such. Lots to swallow, besides the "wire is wire" mantra we so commonly hear.

    However it's one take on cable design. You'll find many other brands with different designs for various reasons and you can read up on those as well. Each design presents a sound signature the creator thinks is the bomb. Problem is, not all designs mesh well within ones system so it becomes a game of matching signatures, trial and error, or just finding one that will compliment your system in a positive way rather than subtract from it.

    It's yet another rabbit hole for sure, good luck with your termination and honestly...I'd call AQ just for giggles and see what they want to terminate them. If too much, you can always use bare wire, right ?
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  • UpstatemaxUpstatemax Posts: 2,108
    Last time I had AudioQuest stuff cut and re-terminate for me they basically just charged me the cost of new bananas and I think $10 labor per pair of wire.

    I just let them know the configurations I wanted (bi-wire, full range) and the new lengths for the runs.

    However, if you're looking at something with the DBS system, I assume they are going to charge more to address that...
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  • msgmsg Posts: 3,609
    edited December 2017
    Hey Tony, yeah, so I think I first really opened up to exploring cables a little after first year in. So far, my experience has been a positive overall effect from the cumulation of subtleties, some more so than others.

    This is my first experience with AudioQuest, and my first experience with solid core conductors, and some unique cable design. I was fortunate enough to get in on some of those MIT Clearance Center deals, and acquired some Shotgun S3s* that made a significant difference in the system, so much so that I found myself immediately zero'ing Tone controls. This was also when I found myself letting go of tone adjustments altogether. I also had positive experience with the Douglas Connection stuff, as well, albeit DIY kits with some lower end connectors. I have no doubts that some of Doug's higher end stuff offers even greater benefit.

    Part of the allure here is the learning and DIY.

    *Side Note: I've yet to really explore what it is exactly that MIT is addressing in their cable designs, as well. It's taken me about two years and happenstance exposure to a situation to have me delving into cable theory. It's interesting stuff. I was in school for electrical engineering years ago. Thankfully it didn't take, and I found myself on another path. Always enjoyed the sciences and maths, chemisty, physics and digital logic a few of the faves, so I'm enjoying reading some of these cable design principles and learning about the materials and theories.
  • msgmsg Posts: 3,609
    edited December 2017
    One of the things I saw in my reading was a diagram in one of AQ's documents that I thought was an error at first, but tagged to come back and review. Notice the arrangement of the primary conductors? Diagonal Wiring
    rt4c2fkumyar.png

    This morning, I noticed that one of DK's old posts resurfaced, where he details an experiment in the curiosity of diagonal wiring:
    Diagonal Wiring Experiments With The SDA SRS 1.2TL

    Now that I realize the AQ diagram wasn't an error, and after seeing DK's post, I'm really curious now about some of this cable theory, and I'm going to try to properly re-terminate these AQ cables and play around with this bi-wiring/diagonal connection idea in the process.

    What's the story on soldering solid core conductors?
    I was wondering, - working with these different gauge solid core AQ conductors and noticing that they don't twist together very well, unlike stranded conductors do - is it okay to solder solid core copper? I was considering twisting the wires as before, tinning them, and **** down in the connector (they're shallow screws in these connectors), and then filling the connector with Cardas Quad.

    What do you guys think? Any other suggestions?
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 28,034
    Many of us believe Audio is a journey pal, not a race. Take your time, you appreciate it more, all those little changes that add up to bigger ones. Merry Christmas to ya !
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  • nbrowsernbrowser Posts: 7,146
    msg wrote: »
    One of the things I saw in my reading was a diagram in one of AQ's documents that I thought was an error at first, but tagged to come back and review. Notice the arrangement of the primary conductors?
    rt4c2fkumyar.png

    This morning, I noticed that one of DK's old posts resurfaced, where he details an experiment in the curiosity of diagonal wiring:
    Diagonal Wiring Experiments With The SDA SRS 1.2TL

    Now that I realize the AQ diagram wasn't an error, and after seeing DK's post, I'm really curious now about some of this cable theory, and I'm going to try to properly re-terminate these AQ cables and play around with this bi-wiring/diagonal connection idea in the process.

    What's the story on soldering solid core conductors?
    I was wondering, - working with these different gauge solid core AQ conductors and noticing that they don't twist together very well, unlike stranded conductors do - is it okay to solder solid core copper? I was considering twisting the wires as before, tinning them, and **** down in the connector (they're shallow screws in these connectors), and then filling the connector with Cardas Quad.

    What do you guys think? Any other suggestions?

    Ah the diagonal bi-wire technique. Scott, honestly there's many ways to wire your speakers and I did a bit of SnG testing myself a while back. Tell ya what...just go play with how things are wired a bit...use a select track or two with the same volume level etc. and just find out what works and what might not, never know til ya go try stuff.
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  • msgmsg Posts: 3,609
    edited December 2017
    Good info. Sounds like you don't have those cables anymore. I imagine the connectors were fully heatshrinked and it's not/wasn't possible to see what was done inside the connector? I'm just noticing that it seems like most of AQ's more refined cable offerings use solid core conductors? This may be common knowledge to most of you, but I've not had any AQ nor solid core cable before.
    Upstatemax wrote: »
    Last time I had AudioQuest stuff cut and re-terminate for me they basically just charged me the cost of new bananas and I think $10 labor per pair of wire.
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 8,817
    Still won't make a difference.......
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 15,617
    lightman1 wrote: »
    Still won't make a difference.......

    What does this jasper know about wires?

    ;)
    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

  • I recently upgraded my cable from Kimber 4pr to 8tc on my front three, immediate improvement in detail and clarity.
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  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 8,301
    edited December 2017
    Upstatemax wrote: »
    Last time I had AudioQuest stuff cut and re-terminate for me they basically just charged me the cost of new bananas and I think $10 labor per pair of wire.

    I just let them know the configurations I wanted (bi-wire, full range) and the new lengths for the runs.

    However, if you're looking at something with the DBS system, I assume they are going to charge more to address that...

    They quoted me 376.00 to reterminate the Mammoth cables i had. I did ask for something heavier duty than BFA's as the weight of the cable would of folded those in half.

    yes it's perfectly okay to solder solid core wire 95% of all of audioquest stuff is all going to be solid core wire. that being said I would just try and get it as tight as possible before I shove it down in the barrel make sure the barrels hot and flow the solder in and fill it up the best you can yes those little tiny wires are a pain in the bottom.
  • UpstatemaxUpstatemax Posts: 2,108
    pitdogg2 wrote: »
    They quoted me 376.00 to reterminate the Mammoth cables i had. I did ask for something heavier duty than BFA's as the weight of the cable would of folded those in half.

    Ouch!

    Do you remember what the terminations were?

    I know some of their "higher end" terminations can get pricey.
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  • msgmsg Posts: 3,609
    I recently upgraded my cable from Kimber 4pr to 8tc on my front three, immediate improvement in detail and clarity.
    Interesting design there on the 8tc
    Are you running full-range or bi-wire sets?

    2jn96xdlrq9o.png
  • just twist all the red wires together and all the black wires together and hopefully they will fit inside of what ever your trying to terminate them with lol..

    here is some instructions for a sort of similar wire.. it would probably be easier to bi wire those cables

    dst2g3fnzkt9.jpeg
    Cambridge Azur 651A
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    Sonos Connect




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