Belden ICONOCLAST Interconnects and Speaker Cabling

Hi Tony,

OK, Now I get it. For the bass frequency portion, not, based on pure DCR properties series II won’t “help” there at all. The Vp curve on each cable “fits” as we approach less than 1 KHz so that is nice for us. This fact let’s use a “superior” cable for bass that is cheaper, and just have to buy the more expensive cable for the mid/treble if we chose to.

Again, some will audition and report that they hear no bass changes, but enjoy the mid/treble changes resulting from the Vp differential adjustments. You will need a good ear as the series I is already really good compared to most cables.

Some will even HATE the sound. Why? Easy. If we make a zero distortion cable and stick it in (what I’m essentially trying to do) we may not like THAT sound! No offense at all, we each adjust to a sound we ENJOY, and that is the key to our hobby. I just chose to offer super low distortion designs…and they may not be for everyone.

The voltage “sag” (lost signal in the cable) across your speaker cable is the resistance on the unit length used. Our cable is SHORT so a 10 AWG series I verses a 11.5 AWG series II won’t see a huge difference, especially if we play at lower volume. E=I*R so if I is low, the voltage drop is low. I made sure the series II could still be full range and do really well, I just tilted the scale in favor of bi-cable set-ups so the “ultimate” could be used if people enjoy that application.

Best,
Galen

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Always a solid response. Thanks Galen!

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aangen,

I’ve tried to threaten my cables but they ignore me, so my hopes on length get shot down by the physics. On analog, length isn’t going to hurt except to realize we use short cable, and too short makes adds, moves, changes a pain.

The XLR is a “keyed” connection so a straight through and loop back won’t align the same. When we twist the cable, it is like a Chrysler torsion beam suspension, the cable twist up to 180 degree to plug it in. A short cable is a far stiffer “spring” than a long one. Half length is 4X stiffer.

In my use, I’ve found the easiest time with air tubes and ICONOCLAST to be just over a meter or so, 5 feet, as it allows either straight through or loop back, both. It is long enough to reach most places, and both directions yet short enough to be more than fine.

That’s the inside scoop on why we recommend 5 footers. It is for your benefit to make life easier and to allow decent reach in your system. Yes, we can make a cable specifically for straight through or loop back and get the shorter but still, it is better to allow a nice smooth bend so less than 1 meter is iffy…be careful.

The RCA are REAL nice simply because the mechanics says cable half as big is 4X easier to bend and it is smaller and plenty flexible. No reported problems with the RCA and, an RCA connector isn’t keyed so straight through or loop back works fine.

Best,
Galen

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PART III - SERIES II SPEAKER CABLE

Lots of questions on the cross-over aspect of the series I to series II. Since the VP is approaching zero at DC, the two Vp traces to blend into each other the lower we go in frequency. There is a “region” where the Vp differential is small, and we can nab this off and use it to our advantage.

A chart shows where that region is. The YELLOW region is where most all speakers cross-over the woofer to to mid/tweeter (three or more way) or tweeter (two-way). My speaker is at 200 Hz as an example. I may be good at listening, but bass frequencies are full of distortion any way and a 1%-4% Vp differential is REALLY hard to hear. This allows the two cables to be “spliced” together. So we see in GRAPH form this result.

But, you’re right! That isn’t all there is to it is it. We need a “voice” that is the same, too. To get that I made sure we share INDUCTANCE at 0.08uH/foot nominal and the IMPEDANCE traces also BLEND in the same region. Looking at the impedance we see the open-short test looking pretty consistent, where the 1313A (yellow) is way out there. We’d like to avoid that difference to our cable’s “voice”.

OK, now lets look at how all those dang nab wires really are working. We have two resistances in the cable to make matters more complex. We have the 48 individual wires resistance, and we have the “total” aggregate DCR of all the wires. Both are important.

If we use a zip cord, like 1313A,we can eliminate one of the DCR factors, but lose the ability to tune the cable response. This is OK if that change is inaudible to you, but the cable is measurably and different in calculation.

We’ll do the aggregate DCR first. This is the resistance we test doing and open-short impedance sweep. It looks at ALL the small wires at the same time.

We aren’t all engineers so I will make this simple. We now have 48 individual SODA STRAWS! Take any one soda straw size and suck a milk shake, water and air through it. Not all will let you draw the stuff at the same speed as the liquids DENSITY is different. We didn’t change the soda straws ID, but the density of what we are drinking. Each “frequency” has a different density, and the Vp changes from a milk shake to pure air at RF (assuming we use an air dielectric).

We can adjust the Vp with resistance, yes? We saw the equations for all that. There is that “R” value in there and this is where making a straw bigger, or smaller, can tune the Vp, or how easy it is to draw the liquid through the straw.

Let’s compare soda straws, a big ID one and a small ID one. Let me run you around the room sucking on that single SMALL straw! UGH, you can’t breath too well. The bigger one sure helps. That would be a 28 AWG small soda straw and a 10 AWG 1313A FAT soda straw.

What if, (thanks HP) we instead of using one small 28 AWG soda straw, I stuck a bunch of 28 AWG soda straws in your mouth? Same ID, just more of them. At some point they will EQUAL a 10 AWG soda straw. Did I change the air going in and out of each of all those straws? No, each individual straw is the same as always, but now we have a bunch at the same time and that makes it easier to breath through all those soda straws. We LOWERED the resistance…this will alter the IMPEDANCE (lowers it). But, the SPEED of the air through each straw is still fixed by the one straws ID and what ever the liquid (frequency) you are trying to draw through it.

How does this work and can we calculate all those soda straws properties as we add a bunch? Yes, we can. Several ways to cross check the answer, too.

Here we go, three answers that are pretty close. Why not exact? Because we make approximations on the size of the wire in some, and use the real deal wire resistance in the measurement. Remember, all this stuff has an error range to it or standard deviation. We need to be aware of what “guesses” we make or what variables we decide are too small or too big to matter.

What is our circuit?

This is what we have. I didn’t want to draw 48 individually insulated lines so pretend that that box is that. EACH one of those soda straws has a fixed ID or resistance. The Vp, or liquids speed (frequency based) uses that resistance to arrive at it’s properties. The capacitance is shared across ALL the wires measured from the cable end, but the current LOOP path is through each individual wire. How does that work?

The above is a simple example of the amazing world of physics. There is a law that states the current through parallel resistors will SPLIT between them based on the ratio of the resistances. In the diagram, we can see the current magnitude, represented by the black lines thickness, GROWS as the resistance (1,3, 6 ohms) gets smaller.

We can calculate the circuit if we wanted it to look like ONE resistor by adding up all the currents through EACH wire, and divide that into the voltage applied. So a single soda straw would be 0.67 ohms and allow the same current as three parallel soda straws of 1,3, and 6 ohms. We know for a fact that each soda straw act “differently” than the others as the current splits into the individual resistances.

To keep the soda straws Vp at frequency SPEED the same, I used all the same wire size and plastic dielectric (sets the capacitance). Remember, the Vp equation through audio (with R and C kept in the error mitigated zone…not too high or low) uses both R and C to set the Vp.

image

The use of many small soda straws allows a flexibility we lose with one fat straw. We can tune the draw (Vp) speed with ID (resistance) changes and the straws total parallel capacitance. The capacitance could be viewed as the room pressure applied to the end of all the straws. More room air pressure slows the speed in conjunction with the straws ID. We can manipulate R and C, both.

All of this impact all our analog cables. Yes, we can use many different sized straws but the speed of each straw will differ and add a distortion. The AC signal will start the same but become different and deliver voltage at a different rate in time. This is called group delay. All the differences will add one voltage on top of another at the end of the wire, and it will distort the signal sent down the wire.

If we take two coaxial cables. One is 66% Vp the other 87% Vp. One is a copper covered steel signal wire, the other is pure copper signal. One is a 75-ohm cable and one is a 50-ohm cable. We can tie them in parallel, yes? Sure we can. The signal sent down both wires at the same time won’t get to the end of the wire at the same time. The Vp is different based on R and C of each individual loop path. To avoid that, I use BONDED pairs and all the same wires size.

Why use a specific DCR? Easy and hard answer, both. We lose voltage across a cable that is intended for the speaker. It is a passive loss so not really audible but not efficient, either. And yes, it does change the amplifier damping factor as the amplifier sees the cable+speaker as the bulk load. Smaller DCR means less loss on the cable, especially at low frequencies.

If we hit a test scope with a white noise signal (equal signal amplitude at all frequencies) and look at the spectral signal magnitude through a cross-over of a speaker we’ll get something like this;
60 Hz 1000 watts
100 Hz 16 watts
3K 1 watt
10K less than .003 watts.

Since the series II is used above 200Hz-2000Hz, we don’t need all that wire to reach “perfection” in the bass. Not that a 11.5 AWG 7632 CMA wire is wimpy;

for 10 feet 10 AWG = 0.0100 ohm x 2 (there and back).
for 10 feet 11.5 AWG = 0.0126 ohm x 2 (there and back).

That’s a small difference in loop DCR. Where the advantage lies, is that the SERIES I is less expensive than the series II so why charge you more and see technically less performance in the bass region? THAT cost is real. To improve the treble we can keep the cost lower in the bass region for bi-cable customers. If we design the cable right, we can smoothly splice them together as we see in the design calculations.

Thanks so much for being patient on the news and the what, HOW and WHY of it all. Hope this makes cable seem like a real component and something we would not use on a lamp…well, for most of us.

Best,
Galen Gareis

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So, does the music from two identical-ish lengths of Series 1 and Series 2 arrive at the drivers at the same time, or is there a formula for the proper length of S2 based on the length of your S1’s? Thanks, and apologies if I’m missing something.

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I was just typing the same question!

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Mark,

No, I changed the Vp and frequency so they have to be separated by the cross-over in the speaker to work right. Each cable has a different Vp (speed or arrival time property). The problem with audio, is all the signals should travel at the same speed. They don’t, so the harmonics around a fundamental get shifter. The greater the Vp differential (series I is worse than series I) the more we lose the proper time alignment. To fix this, we attempt to flatten the Vp curve through audio so all the signal, as best we can, arrive at closer to the same time.

The trace tells all! The series I will be FASTER than the series II above ~ 1000 Hz, but the same below that where the two Vp lines converge. This is exactly what let’s the cables be designed “differently” based on where they work.

The speaker cross-over will automatically send the right frequencies down the right cable based on the input input impedance at that frequency. Electricity is lazy, and will follow the cable of less resistance at that specific frequency. Thus, we use each cable where it works the best and the transition is smoothed out between100-1000 Hz or so.

The top trace stops at 20 kHz, and the bottom goes on out to RF so we see the curves true end points at DC and RF. All cable does this Vp differential across audio.

At RF all this goes away as the Vp converge to the same speed from RF on up. We don’t have that timing issue any more. Mother nature forced the CHANGE through audio as the Vp at DC is “zero” by definition. The speed of travel thus slowly drops as we lower frequency to DC.

Don’t forget this slide below. All cables R and C will change the slope of the Vp curve towards DC and to RF. Notice that the 9269 look “weird” compared to the other three cables. That is because it is a copper covered steel wire, and it is an air dielectric. Both change where the “ends” transition and how they are reaching (zero slope (vertical) to no slope (horizontal)). Through audio they are still close to parallel. Also notice that 9515 has LOW Vp of about 55% or so. Why? The Vp is a composite of the plastic and the surrounding material between the signal wire and the shield’s inner dimension. Only coaxial cables have the 1/ SQRT(e) for the Vp. Other cables are a composite Vp and won’t follow that equation and only at RF does it work. The series I and II are both lower Vp at RF than the FEP dielectric’s ideal 69%. This is by design to improve the signal arrival times through audio.

Best,
Galen

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This is silly cool!

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Thanks!

I just had a deja vu moment from my earlier career working on Sonar systems. Time Domain!

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Elk,

Yes, a LOT of work to make this simple trace happen! But boiled all the way down that’s what the series II is doing. Allowing us to splice in the best parts of both cables. People wanted ultimate and to do it I realized you can’t fight city hall. So, we adopted the physics to work for us.

Best,
Galen

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Hi Galen, you may want to go back a couple posts and proofread your writing. Typos are a pain but even more so when trying to explain complicated ideas.

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Hi Rob,

Good grief yes. I constantly fix my index finger typing! Point them out and I’ll nab them. All those “edits” are fixing typos!

rob-c’s post should get a lot more “likes”!

Best,
Galen

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This will be perfect seeing woofers cross over at 400 Hz. Did not get a chance to talk to Bob today sounded like he was quite ill. But he had his wife call me. I told her it will wait and please care for his health first . He is a dedicated man to have on your team. I will still work a series 2.deal with him as a long time returning customer when he is feeling better.

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If you’re looking for a quick fix there’s a new BJC video that was posted that has a small segment on the Series 2 Iconoclast cable: What's new at BJC + contest! - YouTube

Call me weird but the Belden 1310a with some NL2 Speakons and a Benchmark amp looks like a pretty swank setup to me.

Anyways, cool to see the new cable in video form. Looks to be very labor intensive to prep/terminate!

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PART IV - SERIES II SPEAKER CABLE

Today I want to back-up to the VERY beginning of the ICONOCLAST cable design. The BONDED PAIR. Without the bonded pair the speaker cable could not be made. The bonded pair Siamesed construction enables a significant amount of inductive cancellation, and the weave polarity design limits capacitance increases.

The last statement was, and is, very real. I found it hard to get capacitance to budge! The weave design definitely mitigates capacitance changes. The final series II design had to up the polarity “plate” areas (the two flat polarity halves are making a capacitor) roughly 30%. Some capacitance adjustments are from the smaller 28 AWG nesting more closely, and thus added to the capacitance and lowering inductance.

That last point, a tighter polarity interface, is also very crucial to get the INDUCTANCE to remain at 0.08uH/foot. With a more involved weave (24 from 12 bonded pairs) and more intimate polarity interface the design kept the final inductance near the 0.08 uH/foot nominal range and achieved 65 pF/foot nominal capacitance. In the first mini tech session, the Vp calculated graphs all showed good center to use a ~ 60 pF/foot capacitance value for the best benefits (more on that below). We don’t want the inductance to change at all, or the swept one-short impedance. We’d like those to be “like” as we can for proper bi-cable cross-over uniformity. The DCR was largely how the series II matches the series I open-short impedance but higher cap also helps lower the open-short impedance. We need to balance TWO things that often time oppose the final design goals. Ugh.

When we drop the Vp to improve the differential across frequency, that makes impedance go up. We offset that with the higher capacitance and lower DCR, thus we re-aligned the impedance till they were near the same. Nothing acts linear so small changes can wallop the results. This is why I designed the ICONOCLAST “weave”, it mitigates large swings in capacitance and inductance. I can reach STABLE values that are repeatable with so many wires.

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts to line-up such that all the attributed get the design where it needs to be. Let’s see how the BONDED PAIR starts the entire process.

The chart illustrates the physical restraint that we have using a FEP dielectric wall of 7 mils for electrical safety. We slaughter test every cable with 5,000 Volts! Yep, we can not chase inductance or capacitance with a thinner and tighter wall if we fail this requirement. True, to get capacitance higher, we could have just lowered the FEP wall on series I cable design until we got to 65 pF/foot and lowered the inductance (the two go opposite each other)…and soon after that the sparks would fly in your home!

Keeping the wall at 7-mil insures a safe reliable product. We also see a decrease in the capacitance as we design our way to that ~60 pF value we need to make series II a reality. Not so good a start right out of the gate! Reality dictates this is where we start the entire process.

The final design has to balances all this out. We needed to use 12+12 (upper+lower deck braiding) bonded pairs to hit 65 pF/foot capacitance, and the weave PPI (picks per inch) pattern altered the EM field cancellation in order to reach the 0.08 uH/foot requirements. All those wires of a specific AWG size adjusted the DCR, so we do interact with R, L and C to alter tertiary properties like skin depth efficiency and Vp linearity.

A good design that mother nature likes, will impact each variable positively at the best possible point of conservation of energy. Everything likes to be at the lowest energy state. If we evaluate skin depth for those in interested, we significantly alter skin depth with 28 AWG wire while reaching Vp linearity properties. Smaller wires improve the current uniformity through a wire making it more efficient. A skin depth is the point where the inner current decrease to 37% of the surface current. If we had a wire where the exact center current at a specific frequency was 37% of the outer current, we would say that that wire has a skin depth of one at frequency X.

The following shows two methods for skin depth calculation. Both are “right” but will be “exact” at differing frequencies as approximations between the two aren’t the same. Again, we need to be cognitive of the equation’s “fitted” levels of approximation. Most things like Vp and skin depth are close to but not exact. We need to be honest about the answers as also approximate if the data going in is approximate! Nothing with the variable pi in it is exact, just saying.

The final series I and II swept open-short impedance graph below illustrates the two cables impedance uniformity to each other. That one graph involves a bunch of work at the machine getting everything lines up and no…I didn’t calculate that, I’m not that good. I measured it all so all those pesky estimations are gone!

Now we can talk about the very end of this process after we looked at the very beginning with the
BONDED PAIR. How do we use series II ICONOCLAST cable?

The first method is to use TWO amplifiers, or even three, one to each driver section. This will isolate every cable and amplifier as it’s own circuit. The cable load presented to the amplifier is shown in the upper left and right boxes. The lower trace is the calculated Vp change when each cable is look at 20-20 KHz.

The second method is to use what most of us will, is a bi-cable set-up where we Siamese the two cables at the amplifier, and use the speaker’s cross-over to separate the signal frequencies to each driver section. Notice the capacitance seen by the amps is 2X, as is the inductance where the resistance drops by half. This is to be expected as we place cable in parallel. This is also why I chose to keep capacitance to ~ 60 pF/foot. Amplifiers become unstable into high capacitance long before the capacitance lowers the first order filter roll-off into the audio band.

High capacitance reduces amplifier output bandwidth and slew rate. The phase lag capacitance can produce in the op amp’s feedback loop causes pole instability. Some capacitance is unavoidable but amplifiers subjected to high capacitance loads can be seen as signal overshoot, signal ringing, and/or oscillation.

Capacitance usually isn’t a problem on a speaker cable but less is better than more, and chasing lower and lower Vp at the risk of causing amplifier instability isn’t an option, we have design limitation imposed by the over all “system” too.

The final method is to audition and use ONE cable full range. The series II is still a very low 11.5 AWG cable. Where the bi-wire user’s need to get two sets of cables, the added expense of the series II on the low-end won’t be a benefit. Use the series I there, and the series II for the treble. This saves you some money as the “system” is better overall. Single cable users can decide which design works the best with their desired system balance. BOTH are excellent cables.

I use the cable as single, bi-wire and bi-amp in my system as I use T+A M40 HV mono amps and T+A Solitaire CWT1000-40 speakers that are single cable, bi-cable and bi-amp capable. I do listen to the cables the way everyone will be using them with my set-up. And yes, I bought the equipment I have to really be “you” using ICONOCLAST.

That wraps up the design briefs in the series II ICONOCLAST, but open-ended questions are, of course, welcome. And has been pointed out…find my typos!!

Best,
Galen Gareis

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And this is the part we don’t see…making the cables is as hard as building the assemblies. They are Ferrari cars, and super temperamental to make and work on. We want the cost down, I agree, but making a Ferrari can’t ever compare to a Camry. A cheap Ferrari is what ICONOCLAST is trying to provide to the hobby. No, not everyone will accept a cheap Ferrari, either. I understand that.

I think we have the Corvette of Ferrari’s, but not every sports car enthusiast will buy a Corvette. We get it but darn it we want to get as many to afford and enjoy the beautiful level of performance ICONOCLAST can provide.

Stay tuned to Blue Jeans.

Best,
Galen

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“It’s alive!” - from a previous post by BobBJC

I was treated to about 4 hours of listening at Galen’s yesterday on his reference system (all T+A equipment except for a Pass preamp). Boys, he’s done it again. :grin:

I’m kind of running out of superlatives for audio so I’ll keep it simple. From the midrange up, the Iconoclast TPC Series II delivers noticeably more of the Iconoclast goodness (compared with STPC Series I that we swapped). More clarity, stunningly concrete and defined mids and no “rounding off” of edge detail. Soundstage depth and individual instrument/vocal separation are impressively improved. As with Series I, all this without harshness.
If I had to pick a reference for the subjective amount of change, the closest I could get, without being overly specific, would be to compare it with the change I heard between Series I and Series II interconnects. You know which cable is which without having to second guess or ponder if you are hearing the difference - there was no need to go back and forth more than once. I have found this to be the case with all of Galen’s designs - not so for me with the conductor material differences, which took a bit of back and forth to decide which one I preferred. I’m looking forward to hearing these in “inferior” systems, like my own.

Genius

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The graph comparing the Vp of 24ga to 28ga is what I was referring to previously as being impressive. Keep in mind that the curves will never look as flat as they do at lower audio frequencies and may be at or near their practical limits with the 28ga.

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I have really enjoyed this entire discussion and continue to follow it and to be impressed by the challenges to improve upon a design. Maybe this question has be asked before or the answer is obvious, but I am looking at a pair of 20 foot long speaker cables with 5 foot long balanced interconnects, or to move my mono amps closer to my speakers with 20 foot long balanced interconnects and 5 foot long speaker cables. Which configuration would be preferred? Thanks.