At THE Show, I got a new perspective on cables. Cables are a highly contentious topic in our industry, and it was refreshing to spend a few minutes with David Salz, Designer and Founder of Wireworld, on his perspective.
Things people can’t argue:
- Less cable is better.
- Cables cannot improve your signal, only potentially damage / color it.
David’s approach is: let’s start with “no cable”, and compare the difference when a cable is added. The goal is to see how much we are losing when a cable is added vs. “no cable”.
David’s comment: “You can’t tell what a cable is losing, until you know what is lost.”
The Cable Polygraph was a demonstration of comparing Speaker cables to “no cable”.
Ok.. so how do we listen to “no speaker cable”?? David explained that the closest we can get to it is to make the smallest adapter to connect an amp to a speaker. For demo they achieved this by soldering a spade plug to a banana plug.
Luckily the Triad Cinema Reference Surround 2 speakers in use had their speaker terminals on top, allowing for the Bel Canto M500 Mk2 mono amps to make a connection sitting on top of the speaker for the demo. They were sitting on a plank, and I was just counting how long until that lovely amp would fall to the floor, but luckily through the course of the demo, nothing fell… No amp down!
From here they rolled through a series of listening tests starting with the adapter to simulate “no cable”, and comparing various 10 foot speaker cables to it.
Test 1: No cable (using the small adapter)
Test 2: 14-gauge zip cord speaker cable (10 feet)
Test 3: 14-gauge zip cord speaker cable, with two conductors separated (10 feet)
Test 4: Wireworld Helicon 16 speaker cable for internal / DIY speaker cable (10 feet) – $7 a meter!
Test 5: Wireworld Mini Eclipse (10 feet) – $570
Test 6: Wireworld Eclipse (10 feet) – Approx – $1,800
The results were pretty decisive.
- The “no cable” (using the small adapter), sounded the best. It brought out the best of the Bel Canto amp and Triad Cinema speakers.
- The 14-gauge zip cord was awful. It sounded like the system died, and lost all life. This wasn’t a crap cable to sand bag the demo, this was the usual $1 a foot stuff people buy at Home Depot. Think all of the music people are losing from that zip cord.
- The 14-gauge zip cord that was separated was even worse. David claims that separating the conductors adds noise.
- The 16-guage Wireworld Helicon 16 speaker bulk cable was fabulous for $7 a meter! I hope they start to sell this as a terminated product and not just in bulk, since it went a long way towards “no cable”. Probably some of the BEST speaker cable I have heard under $100!!! If you can spend $1 a foot a Home Depot, please spend the extra $1 and buy all of this you can.
- The Wireworld Mini Eclipse seemed to be the sweet spot. For $540, it brought the system back to a happy place, something I wouldn’t mind listening too. You could start to feel the music become engaging again.
- The Wireworld Eclipse got very close to the “No Cable”, as expected at that price point. ($1800).
Cable Polygraph for Headphones
The also offered the same test for headphone cables.
Basically they created a similar adapter to connect a PONO music player to a pair of Oppo headphones, to simulate “no cable”, and then allow comparisons.
Attendees could listen to the adapter as a reference to “no cable”, and then try out a stack of various cables (including the stock cable) from Wireworld and other manufacturers to hear the differences themselves.
All up a great demo, and a fresh perspective. I loved using “no cable” as a reference and a target to shoot for. This helps cable evaluation focused on achieving the best signal transmission, and not a specific color / variation that might sound pleasing but is different from where the signal started.
It would be fantastic to see this again with some other cable manufactures cables. Hmmm…. I might have to borrow that adapter from David and give it a try.
Complete Equipment list for the room:
- Bryston BDP1 USB music player
- Bel Canto DAC 3.7 Control and Preamp
- Bel Canto M500 mk2 mono amps
- Triad Cinema Reference Surround 2 speakers
- Torus RM15 power conditioner
- Pono Music player
- Oppo PM1 Planar Magnetic Headphones