Belden ICONOCLAST Interconnects and Speaker Cabling

It’s kinda zen for me. Alone, quiet, music. There are days I prefer it over most other things.

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I have been dreading this.

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Oh well, we must have a different understanding of “out”.

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CinDyment,

We can’t even do that for electronics unless we fudge well outside their use patterns. Of course we get to where ANYONE can hear a difference, But…

Why is class A so different than Class AB when the tested properties are “inaudible” and only measurements can separate them? Worse, the measuremnents WILL NOT tell you which you’ll like (I like and use AB OMG!).

The M40 HV mono amps can be switches near INSTANTLY to AB and A mode. No changes at all. And, they sound different. There are no numbers that say what we hear at all. Not a one.

DAC filters that are also too good to “be heard”. WTF with that? The numbers don’t explain it at ALL. Sure, they show the ringing and such but the SOUND, and what it SOUNDS like? And if one will be HEARD over another? No, they don’t. But we do hear the differences in digital filters. Dynamic responses are not at all accurate to what we hear.

Have you used ICONOCLAST cables? It is free. Or, are we all stuck being no better than your cables? I haver used those, assuming it is 1313A or like zip cord.

I will use better everywhere I can. Do what you please, your choices are out there. Leave the rest to theirs. ICONOCLAST is a proper design to contrast to “standard” fair and decide what you hear. What have you heard? We designed them on purpose to contrast the two design metrics and your bitching about the ability to do a fair comparison between definitely different cables? Really? Seems like we should not sell a foot once the comparison is completed, yes?

I know what the specs say, but I listen to the product.

Best,
Galen

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Well stated Galen!!!

Best wishes

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I think that automobile tires and stereo interconnects might be a good comparison.
For 99% of the market none of the choices matter at all as long as the tires hold air or the stereo plays music of some sort.

Where the difference comes in is at the high performance end of both tires and wires.
If you dont care or have a real interest (or have equipment capable of proving the differences) then neither one matters.

But if you do have interest and care then there is no denying that a set of Sport Cups or P Zeros will let your car do things that no other tire in a lower price range can do. Although all the other tires are made of rubber, have radial plies, and some sort of tread the top tier are still better by design and materials used.

I am no EE and in fact know very little about electronics at all it was easy for me to hear the differences in the cables from lamp cord to Blue Jeans to Iconoclast (and hear the differences in Iconoclast wire alloy when the construction is the same). Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

If you cant hear the difference in the wires then that is fine. It will save you some money in the long run but that doesn’t mean the differences dont exist or should be downplayed just because you cant hear a difference.

It is the same with the high performance tires. My wife could care less about the tires on her car as long as they aren’t flat but I will keep my Sport Cups on the Z06 thank you.

In the case of the Belden lineup everything is guaranteed money back for 30 days and every cable from a $10 CAT5 to a $1000 Iconoclast is assembled and tested by hand and comes with individual test reports for each piece. I dont know of any other manufacturer that does.

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I’ve used cars myself.

My 2021 GTI can’t leverage REALLY good tires at all. So esoteric cable will be SLIGHTLY better but not to the level it should be.

The 2022 Panamera 4 can leverage the tire to it’s limits.

The fundamental DESIGN of the car allows all the tertiary elements to be most important as they can be. We hear the entire “car” and not just the tires so it is hard to pick out one attribute in analog chains.

But the case was made to develop a really good TIRE and let everyone try it for size! Make it cheap enough so those with a GTI can also enjoy the experience.

There will always be questions concerning cable, but R, L and C are going to be the three legs to the stool. ALL elements go through one or all of those three properties.

If we look ahead on a design, we can capture more and more of the tertiary properties for a reasonable price for yes, more expensive sports car tires.

Best,
Galen

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We keep looking at applications, and Doug Schroder of Dagago audio suggested a DOUBLE bi wire set-up.

This drops inductance to one-fourth and ups capacitance 4X, that’s the physics. With lower ICONOCLAST bulk capacitance cable we can do this. I use 4 foot leads so the total loading is reasonable. I would not try this with 30 foot leads even though it is still far lower capacitive load than ribbon flat cable (1,800 to 3,000 pF/foot). Those high cap cable need zobel networks to offset the reactive load.

The photos show just the BASS done with the series I right now. I have to assemble the series II (ugh!) cables. Doug promises really nice sounding results. We’ll see, but we can assemble another “cable” like this that would be impossible to make on the weaving machine.

The amp end sees a spade onto the CABD banana. The CABD accepts a 7 mm SPADE by design. There isn’t room on a locking banana for 2 x 7500 CMA to 9600 CMA wires.

The speaker end sees a CABD BANANA (could be a locking version on that end) onto the speaker post.

Yes, this is COSTLY to do. Guilty as charged (pun there). But for those that want to do WAY out there on cable this is another step. But…let me use this awhile before we get too much in the hobby bank account.

Does the reduction in current in each wire and altered L and C that blows into all the tertiary properties like Vp linearity and proximity effect matter? The skin depth won’t be altered as the wire size sets that no matter how many you have based on frequency thus the current efficiency will be the same. Proximity effect is current determined and lower current means less proximity effect. Vp linearity is total capacitance loading and we are changing that. Loop DCR won’t change per wire but BULK DCR will drop 2X for each leg (about one-fourth total drop), though. So for pure DCR fans this is a big change.

The effectsare real, with some smaller than others, but they are addative. We can argue what we hear, but this is a WAY different design “cable”. I continue to try different things for us and involve the tech so we know what’s happening.

Thoughts on this? It is a way to makes a “series III”. And, you can double wire standard speakers like this, too. Two x series II would be pretty awesome as the DCR drops to ziltch and inductance is halved and still with minimal capacitive loading. That’s pretty cool.

Best,
Galen

Two series I in parallel and two parallel series II for a double bi-wire (bass section shown)!


FULL ASSEMBLY SHOWN

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The system is running with bi-bi (bye-bye?) wire. It so good it like it isn’t there? Well, in some places that’s near true.

I changed to the P3100HV preamplifier and it is a very spatially precise sound. Super clean edges as recorded and with a really 3D sound stage.

OK, what do the cable’s do doubled-up? Well, ICONOCLAST has that amazing sound stage that specs just don’t describe. Like it or not R, L and C won’t tell you anything about the sound stage precision.

The parallel cables do drop DCR and Inductance to near buy-bye low spec tolerances, and capacitance is still very reasonable as ICONOCLAST is lower cap using so many wires (50-65 pF/foot on the series I and II bulk respectively).

The overall system has that “ICONOCLAST” sound stage that is hard to pull away from. The cables certainly didn’t make things worse, that’s for sure.

Midrange is especially special, with a super natural and near holographic sense of space around it. Technically EVERYTHING has spatial localization that you really take notice on vocals. Spooky good is probably right. We want it to sound real, but when it does it is almost disturbing. I said, almost, I’ll learn to accept it!

The nice thing about this approach to REALLY zapping cable electrical, is that with ICONOCLAST specs, you can do it on single post speakers with the SERIES II.

The DCR goes to a massive 15,000 CMA and inductance drops to just 0.04 uH/foot. The speaker cable open-short impedance should drop to HALF in parallel, like two coaxial cables in parallel. But we need to MEASURE this and report what we are REALLY getting over frequency.

And yes, that amazing sound stage stays.This WELL eclipses what the series I or II can do by themselves from a pure spec standpoint. There is just no way to compete electrical with this set-up. But, but, it is $$ (twice) the price. OUCH. If I were to make a single cable this good it would be MORE than 2X the price as significant manufacturing changes to machines would be needed and there is no way to pay for such specialized equipment. So we take input from Doug Schroder for Dagogo audio to test a doubled up concept (he’s already auditioned it and won’t ever go back to single runs of ICONOCLAST).

Better, you can buy this in stages as needed if you want specs this good on the cables. I will make a series I or II assembly for R, L and C and open-short impedance (should drop to half in parallel). The lower impedance in the low-end benefits high current power delivery to the BASS where we dissipate the most power. That’s a plus.

We are all about the improved specs so let’s see what we might see;

Single Paralleled
50pf/foot 100pf/foot
0.08 uH/foot 0.04 uH/foot
9600CMA 19200 CMA
Referenced Zo HALF that referenced Zo.
Skin depth Same, this is frequency defined.
Current efficiency Better with smaller SII wire size.
Proximity effect Half, current defined and “I” is SPLIT.
Vp coherence Lowered with raised the cap. Loop DCR
is the same in each single wire.

So let’s get the proper DATA as a benchmark on a 10 foot piece of series I or II. You could call this a series III design because it really is a totally different cable.

Our ICONOCLAST design let’s us make an assembly like this and leap over a generational improvement in ELECTRICAL right now.

Best,
Galen

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Kind of bummed that I gave up my other set of series 1 SPTPC cables don’t have enough amp binding posts to make this work without stacking Three pair of spades. I tried using other autoformer post 8 and 4 ohm. Sounded off balance. The jumpers for triwire speakers adds another element that likely wouldn’t work. I have thought of running two separate sers of series 2 once you have them in SPTC. One to highs other to MF and seeing if one copper was preferable to highs or mids.

Any thoughts on that Galen?

Parallel ICONOCLAST won’t “hurt” anything on electrical by being too high. It will make a different CABLE, however. Some amps DO NOT like super low inductance and this is getting super low. CHECK that out. We all know amps don’t like real high capacitance to differing levels.

You could do a parallel series I in the bass for super super low DCR and inductance where most of the power is drawn. This should also change the cable “system” impedance, too. I need to do an open-short test to see what level the impedance changes. Leave the uppers with ONE series II as an example.

I would not mix design types or different copper in the same parallel leg. But this is a way to get crazy good electrical WHERE you need it (bass) and the luxury of also probably overkill on the mid/tweeter where the low DCR and inductance isn’t stressed or needed as much.

We all know how we like to pound that nail below the surface, yes? The options are there to try.

Sliding the CABD spring FORWARD and back can tailor the fit some. Try this FIRST as the design is made to do this…most don’t realize it is like the “cocking” inn that it EXPANDS the banana width for a snugger fit. But…if that seems too lose on oversized post bore holes…

Put a THIN piece of compressible olefin heat shrink (not shrunk) cut to fit between the two halves of the banana. It has to be a compressible material. I slid the shrink back maybe one-fourth inch from the FRONT end of the post to the SPRING insert. The thin (width of the banana) and short (maybe one-third inch at the most) spacer gives a snugger fit. A thin piece of cardboard may even work. This does work well if the SPRING is too small moved FORWARD some.

The CABD silver solder allow a SPADE to be used making parallel wired systems easier to set-up. The CABD banana are sensitive to the banana’s “fit” into various 5-way posts. Most of the time adjusting the small spring FORWARD gets the fit proper. I haven’t had that fail me yet.

Best,
Galen

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Not sure if AMIR will post the reply to his Audio Scence Review web site. He’s trying to provide a service but it is just repeating what we already know, true changes in R, L and C in a network HAVE TO alter the analog signal or physics is broken. He concisely show that the test resolution isn’t good enough.

He just proved we can’t get that right…still. So his “service” is stuck with the current set of knowns and AMIR isn’t changing the limits of test resolution but just churning what we have always tested. His data isn’t “wrong” any more than mine. What is WRONG is to try to say reactive changes don’t impact the analog signal…they have to. He failed to show that. It’s in there somewhere.

ICONOCLAST pushes the limits of what we can design to, and thus provide a superior sample to investigate NETWORK test methods to uncover HOW better R, L and C impact analog. We’re pretty clear on the limits of what I can currently design with.

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Hi AMIR,

We got it exactly half right. We have a little distortion added in.

ICONOCLAST is designed to get ALL the typical variables optimized that we can MEASURE and CALCULATE, and not just Vp. We do hear TIME based changes to the EM wave. Pure resistive amplitude is a passive distortion. A cable that is resistive only would be ideal. ICONOCLAST is optimized to better is better electrical. To say ICONOCLAST is “only” about Vp propagation times (still very fast in any cable as it is the speed of light in the dielectric) is not totally right. We improve Vp linearity and ALL the related variables, too. And yes, those include the foundation of R, L and C common to all cables. ICONOCLAST can’t remove physics any more than create new physics. It can show what we don’t know, though.

When you improve a variable in audio cable, it effects related variables as well. When Vp coherence is improved (and Vp coherence DOES change the cable’s properties or physics is wrong) it also impacts the OPPOSITE frequency range by lowering the open-short impedance. BOTH are tied together and BOTH need to be improved. Higher capacitance and individual wire loop DCR impacts the low frequency impedance. And yes, this changes how the amp/speaker and cable interact as we have a different reactive network or again, phsics as we know it is wrong and it isn’t. Unlike RF, where stuff is steady state, analog is an awkward frequency range in constant transition at every frequency point. The impacts of this are going to be different based on the total reactive network…it has to be. A cable’s impedance to a speaker at a frequency are NOT matched! We have simple reflections (ZOBEL networks use this property).

The application of more individually insulated and small wires splits the current into smaller signal values per wire, and this smaller wire improves skin effect, lowers current removes to reduce the proximity effects (proportional to current). Managed as a network more small wires can INCREASE the CMA area and lower DCR. IC and speaker cable use different characteristics of the technology. IC cables have no proximity effect to even consider into a high impedance load for example.

Inductance is wrapped around all of the capacitive effects. One BONDED speaker cable pair measures 0.126uH/foot inductance nominal. To lower that inductance value you need to reduce the loop area with DISTANCE and EM field CANCELLATION. Distance is already at a minimum with BONDED pairs thus we introduce EM field cancellation into the design’s. The speaker cable weave pattern used in ICONOCLAST speaker cable does exactly that. Cross weave and SEPARATE polarity paths reduce inductance to 0.08 uH/foot. It works as the physics says it should.

The speaker cable weave also limits the capacitance as the dielectric (inductance isn’t sensitive to the dielectric properties) and physical and periodic separation paths LOWER total capacitance as the average distance is increased. Every wire path is the exact same physical length, so the cable thinks it is “one” wire. Again, the physics says it will work, and it does. We ideally want to hold L and C to reasonably low values and JUST use DCR to optimize the cable if we can, that’s the end goal in a perfect world. In practice we allow higher capacitance in a speaker cable (-3 dB roll off in is the GHz, but amplifier reactive loading is a concern) to lower inductance for current delivery. In IC we like to see low capacitance as it is a voltage signal with low conductor loop DCR.

The IC cable, RCA and XLR use like physics to alter L and C. More smaller wires in a star quad reduces Inductance, but it ALSO has to raise capacitance. It does, from 12.5 pF/foot to 17.5 pF/foot nominal. This is expected as the physics says it has to be. We also increase the CMA area for longer runs. Both the RCA and XLR measure the same swept open-short impedancd by design. The RCA’s double braid improves RCA cable issue of DCR being added between devices and this can aggravate ground loops as the ground isn’t as uniform as it should be. Again, standard physics.

Belden’s task was to IMPROVE every aspect of an analog cable and we did that. We have never put to book a “sound”. A loud speaker’s specs have ZERO real meaning until you listen to ALL of the parameters at once in your room. A cable by itself isn’t ever used, but with an amplifier and speaker. Physics DEMANDS that the introduction of a reactive AC network is derived from the system’s total load to the amplifier. That you, and us too, fail to make this distinction we KNOW is true, is just the short comings of what and how we measure this dynamic interaction. We KNOW for a fact that this reactive interaction is different when we change any of the three variables, amp, cable and speakers. This fact alone suggest we can only calculate and measure certain things. I can relate as I’m restriced to this issue too, but it DOES NOT provide the final answer as to how this complex network is changing things.

Your test illustrate the limits of attribute testing. It can’t show differences in the reactive network when physics says it is definitely there. Saying I can’t hear that isn’t the same as then trying to “prove” the cable electrical don’t impact the RIGHT tests. R, L and C changes do and will alter the analog signal and they will and they have to or again, the physics is broken.

ICONOCLAST will sell what I can calculate and measure, same as we’ve provided since 2015. Our job is to provide properly made cable with KNOWNS adjusted to better suit analog. We sell the entire range of electrical cable. ALL designs will be measured and shown to work as the physics says they should. We have no magic that needs to be accepted. The same properties that make your and our “generic” cable are still at play but to a higher degree in ICONOCLAST to reach better electrical. That’s what the market wants to try and that’s what we make. The effort to make better cable is no more wasted than it has been to provide the products we buy today and improved over the last 100 years. PRICE, not performance, is the barrier to entry and with proper pricing volume there is ZERO reason to not use better R, L and C cable. None. Why would you? Analog is an addative distortion and every step matters.

Your simple testing, and mine, is what blinds us to the changes that physics is providing in each design and yet, we still can’t test them. Welcome to the club. Show me the measurements the do capture the physics in play and we’re good. This isn’t saying, “I can’t hear that”. Your tested data, although accurate to the tests resolution, is incomplete “proving” there is no difference when we know for a fact there is. A simple device is limited by what we know today and doesn’t change what’s left we can’t test. It is a tool to stay on track, it doesn’t answer all of the networks actual properties.

Sitting behind a knowledge limited test fixture won’t change things any more than making zip cord speaker cable forever. The limits need to be pushed in testing and design forcing us to ask, “as different as this really is, why can’t we test the tertiary elements that HAVE TO BE showing up in the “tested” data?”. When an analog design changes, the output has to change or the physics has stopped and it didn’t. We stopped. We make properly made cable to push those testing limits.

Best,
Galen Gareis

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Man, I may have to frame this! Nice article.

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Nice as usual, Galen. But I think communicating with Amir or Daisy or whoever that person is on our forum, is just pushing a rope— uphill.

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Ron,

Flip the mirror. This is for “us” so we are all more fully able to understand why ICONOCLAST exists. We already know we can’t test the true changes in a reactive network that physics says have to be there. What we do know, is if we change the KNOWNS, the tertiary unknowns follow. If that’s not the case…we’re really lost.

I’m confident that the interrelationship of the knowns do indeed improve what we can’t yet test. This is why we decided to provide a benchmark product with proper design. No, it isn’t cheap enough but in time and volume it can be cheap relative to the intended market. We don’t brush that off, either.

Best,
Galen

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A lifelong good friend who has recently passed away used to describe people who couldn’t accept the obvious as “stuck on stupid”.

After slipping a set of Iconoclast OCC XLR’s in place where a set of TPC XLR’s have been for a couple of years I cannot believe the difference in presentation. For the first few days it was like Sybil was playing the stereo. Crazy good then crazy bad.

After a few days of leaving the system play 24hours to get some current moving thru the new XLR’s I can honestly say that @BobBJC was correct. Wait a week and then reevaluate. I cannot believe how good these cables are in my system. It is night and day over the TPC’s and they were pretty darn good. They are here to stay!

I am inclined to believe that the kids over at ASR are “stuck on stupid” a lot. Just because you don’t have the correct tools to measure something does not mean that it does not exist as we all know.

Thanks again to Bob and Galen for making these cables available to mere mortals.

What a great hobby!

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Galen…is there any chance to find out how ICONOCLAST speaker cables work on my system here in Germany?

Hi ugdalf,
I’m in S-H in Germany. Have got series 1 TPC speaker cables and now also series 2.
Short impressions of my new ones - First listened to music on my old cables, then unplugged them and installed the new ones. That was a real pita! They are very stiff and the connections on my amp difficult to get them connected to.
Didn’t know what to expect, aural memory etc. But then - my first though was Holy S***! That became a late night session… A world of a positive difference! - But then, two days later, everything sounded pretty awful, metallic sheen… What was wrong? Well, I decided to run in the cables with some burn in programme. Seems to work! More later, Olaf

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I had the same thoughts at first. Keep them playing music for a few days and they will become your favorite addition.

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Sometimes it is just your system’s bottlenecks as stuff is reaching the calibration temperatures. Some componenets don’t care, some do and it is hard to tell which component is “last” to settle down. My case it isn’t hours, but maybe ten or so minutes.

Is it ME breaking in? Could be so here is what I did to figure that out. I fire up the system and every time it is a softer mellow midrange for maybe ten minutes, but it is evident when all of a sudden stuff is just clear and open.

I LEAVE the stereo ON, but take a hike away from the room for several hours. Go play a PC game for awhile. After I’m dead in the PC game, I return and immediately sit down and listen. If it is me breaking in, the stereo should REPEAT the process but it doesn’t, it is great straight away.

This says the bias or something needs to be at a reasonable range to get it right. The amp, the electrostatic speaker panels, something is taking a bit to be in spec.

I ignore it now, and it is all OK in four or five songs.

Best,
Galen

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