Belden ICONOCLAST Interconnects and Speaker Cabling


#1026

Galen
Is there any sound quality advantage to using shorter Gen2 XLR interconnects, i.e., 3ft vs 5ft vs 15ft?


#1027

Galen is earning his keep trying to keep up. I’m staying out of here until the dust settles except to add my concurrence that the speaker cables will provide the largest improvement in a given system. That being said, the interconnects do also make a significant, “not a little” difference. What I continue to hear over and over is that “happily,” Iconoclast has brought improvement to the table far more than anyone expects. All smiles and all agree that the cables were one of the best values to be had. As to cable length, unlike many things in life, shorter is better. The voltage and current on an RCA and XLR is very small. We have customers who are using 60’+ XLR cables and are happy. I’m glad that this is not me. 1m too long is better than 1" too short.


#1028

The crystal structure, as well as the band structure and metallic bonding of copper have been well understood for ages.

I made no assertion of how copper atoms assemble, but to be clear it’s of course well known that the structure and bonding of copper metal is quantum mechanical in nature, but that’s true of ALL bonding between any and all atoms, whether covalent or metallic. So, I’m not exactly sure what you’re getting at. The resulting band theory calculations have accurately predicted the conductivity and Fermi energy (among other properties) of copper, decades ago. But the behavior of conduction electrons in bulk copper metal show no strictly quantum effects in the sense that I believe you are referring to here.

Let me have a look at that paper, as I sense some possibly fundamental confusion, though I could be wrong.


#1029

Hi Tensor9,

Yes, all you say is correct to the limits of approximations in actual use. The information you site is true, but it does not adequately address copper effects on frequency except bulk resistivity, which excludes PHASE at each frequency.

What I’m getting at, is I can calculate or measure variables that are related to signal transfer. I can’t yet see a specific variable that can be measured on copper draw science that is directly pointing at frequency response. Simple attenuation, proximity effect and skin effect are all the same on each copper type. What is left out is phase responses. The human ear is sensitive to phase far more than frequency. We can’t really hear all that well compared to other mammals but we can certainly LOCATE a sounds source VERY well, and this is PHAS and arrival time calculations ion the brain. Know where a sound is coming from first so you run away, and figure out what it was later.

If resistivity was the issues and a values from 100% for TPC copper to 103% for UP OCC copper makes a difference in sound, I’d tell everyone to use ever so slightly shorter cables.

Something other than simple resistivity is having an effect. Improved tensile and elongation are physical issues not electrical. NASA pushed for the development of more pure copper for the space program where WEIGHT and THIN coatings were being used, and any inclusions may cause a defect at the worst possible time. Sound wasn’t the issue.

If the overall magnetic field is a superposition of ALL moving electrons, yes? It just isn’t “there” all by itself as the electric field makes the magnetic field. Electrons run around in the quantum level and those effects must radiate out from there unless we “feel” the quantum level attributes are somehow completely isolated from the Newtonian ones. Are they?

And yes, the crystal and impurities are also effecting the final electromagnetic wave but seemingly more than you would expect. A copper atom is a copper atom, true. How we draw (grains) and purify it (trace metals and trace gasses mostly) is the difference. Testing the “structure” for signal properties hasn’t shown ANY copper to be different other than resistivity and T&E’s.

What’s your take on this? And, we offer TPC copper BECAUSE it is really very good sounding in a quality design. So I’m not a proponent of spending more than the improvements are worth to you. Modern ETPC copper is so good they made and OFE above OFHC to further differentiate continuous drawn copper.

Send me your Email to galen.gareis@gmail.com and I’ll forward the paper synopsis.

Best,
Galen Gareis


#1030

Technically capacitance and inductance are distance quality factors (longer measures higher values), but as low as the reactive values are, no, you would not really tell a difference till they exceeded 15 feet or so if even then. The phase and coherence response alignment are evident in even 35 foot XLR and RCA cables I have made and delivered. I use 5 footers as I can ALWAYS get the job done if I move stuff around. 1 meter cables are too often too short and $$$ for what you get so we set a fair price on longer 1.5 meter / 5 foot cables.

It is like putting junk in your car trunk. The feel of the car is essentially the same until it gets way too much. Most weight will go unnoticed and the car will react mostly the same.

Galen Gareis


#1031

Holy moly. Geez, I take my wife out for her shoulder replacement surgery and I come back to all this activity after 2 weeks. I’m missing out. Of course, I bought the speaker and Gen 2 XLR’s back in June, so the more I read here the more it’s just, “yep, I got that, too.”

Glad it’s all working out for everyone.

–SSW


#1032

They certainly pair well with my speakers.

See measurements: http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM2/srm2meas.html


#1033

Having Iconoclast interconnects and speaker cabling throughout made a huge difference in my system from beginning to end. Just received my 10 tpc xlr cables and installed them, just fantastic.


#1034

18ft XLRs Gen II OFE BHK pre to 300 monos. OMG! This is the first cable upgrade I have made that blew me away- truly a component level upgrade as others have suggested. This was straight out of the box. Thanks Galen and Bob/ Kurt at BJC. Will finish my full loom soon- no need to look further.
C


#1035

Very cool. I had the same thought when I heard them cold from the box. Just wait a few days, it gets even better.

Now we need Galen to begin work on power cables.


#1036

ADDED STUFF TO THE MAGNETISM SECTION

Thanks for sending me synopsis of the paper, Galen. Though I couldn’t read the paper in its entirety due to it being behind a paywall, between author comments and the Science paper that was referenced, I see what they are reporting.

Ok, there are several things to address here, but I’ll start with the paper at hand. As I suspected, there is some confusion about what is being reported. They are reporting unexpected peaks and valleys in copper thin films (25-50 nanometers), grown in the crystallographic (111) direction, from PVD. They explain these oddities using some grain boundary calculations. That’s all really. These results have no direct relevance on bulk copper used in wire.

To address the issue with the invocation of quantum mechanics in speaker wire, I’ll point out that conduction electrons (in the case of copper, 1 electron per atom is contributed to the conduction band) at room temperature in copper are moving at high velocities (the Fermi velocity) in random directions, and scattering in random directions in copper metal. As such, there is complete quantum decoherence between these individual electrons’ wave functions in terms of the phase of the wave function. Electrons in and of themselves do not have a phase. Band theory uses huge combinations of atomic wavefunctions of atoms that comprise a crystal–that yield many essentially delocalized “crystal” wave functions which are quasi-continuous (a band). Bands explain and predict the electrons’ energies, momenta, and velocity in the various bands. In that sense, yes quantum mechanics has something to say about electrons in solids, not about individual electrons’ wave functions. In a certain limit, the electrons in the highest energy band (the conduction band in metals) can be treated, in some cases, as completely non-interacting. In most cases, some interaction terms are included. Regardless, the quantum state of individual electrons here is not relevant.

The most common (and in a sense the only relevant) bulk property in solids, metals in this case, that quantum mechanics is required to explain is… magnetism. Without getting into too much detail, in the case of metals, BULK magnetism (usually) results from a delocalized, cooperative effect that is only significant when many atoms and electrons are present. The magnetism that arises in intrinsically magnetic materials cannot be explained by electronic motion, as it a result of the electron’s intrinsic angular momentum, what we call spin, a strictly quantum mechanical property. Of relevance here: copper is a diamagnet, so it has no intrinsic bulk magnetic moment or overall magnetic field because the spins are all completely randomized (uncorrelated). Of course free electrons flowing in a conductor do produce a magnetic field, as everyone knows, but this is not
a quantum effect.

I guess another fundamental concept to remember that may or may not help: electricity (current flow) is NOT the flow of electrons, at least in the same sense that water flows through a pipe. Conduction electrons all have around the Fermi energy of copper, which results in their so-called Fermi velocities of around 10^6 m/s. These electrons, when no current is flowing, are bouncing around the crystal at high speeds in completely random directions. When current “flows”, it induces a SMALL NET drift velocity of the bulk electrons (in the opposite direction of current because electrons are negatively charged) on the order of… millimeters per second. Super slow. A wire is acting essentially as a wave guide for the EM field that induces a net current (more analogous to a sound wave than water in a pipe) that moves close to the speed of light (much faster than even the Fermi velocity). So then, the wave functions of these fast, randomly moving (but slowly drifting) electrons propagating a signal way faster than they themselves are moving is essentially not important in ordinary electrical conduction in a metal. The type of long range quantum coherence that would be required strains credulity, at least in the sense of quantum mechanical phase.

With all that being said, when you get cold enough and pure enough OR the right SIZE, quantum mechanics does of course take over, even in bulk solids. :slight_smile:

And this is where my expertise ends. When you get into actual signal transmission and electrical circuits, different levels of explanation are required, on which I have no input. I’d guess that you’re dealing with the old fashioned frequency dependent RLC current-voltage phase lags and leads in an AC electrical circuit. As to how impurities and grain boundaries actually affect these circuit attributes, I have no idea.


#1037

It is a vexing question to be sure. Galen really didn’t think that there would be significant differences in the sound of the different conductors once he standardized the design but there is, indeed. The “why” is still up in the air.


#1038

I found there were differences in speaker cables, mostly with OFE, but they were so subtle and not necessarily better, I couldn’t rationalize the more expensive versions.

I only tried the TPC gen 2 interconnects and kept them.


#1039

I’m looking forward to trying out the Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast Coper xlr cables when they are available. I have both the tpc and the ofe. xlr cables.


#1040

How do the OFE compare to the TPC interconnects?


#1041

I use them in conjunction to one another, and I haven’t compared them directly. I use the OFE xlr cables between my dac and preamp, and I use TPC xlr cables between my preamp and amp, then from the amp to the speakers I use the TPC speaker cable. There was another jump by adding the TPC xlr between the preamp and amp, the other 4 TPC cables were used for the surround speakers along with the front L/R and center channel. I listened to The Doors (The Singles) Blu Ray disc on my Oppo UDP-205 and it was trippy to hear Jim Morrison whisper, “Riders on the Storm,” behind me.


#1042

To emphasize tensor9`s comments, yes, we listen to the magnetic field superposition, who’s strength is the number of electrons moving. I use the simple example of a straw. Push a marble into the end of the straw, and a marble pops out the opposite end at the exact same time. The speed the marble can be inserted, is the velocity of proportion of the dielectric, or the friction in the tube. The electron didn’t move much at all, while the magnetic field went from one end to the other at the VP of the dielectric. This is more or less what is happening. The magnetic wave scoots along and the electrons not so much.

Wire is not a one atom wide straw. A mulitiplixity of the electrons move, and yes, the opposite direction as conventional current. The number of electrons relates to the magnetic field intensity.

As slow as electrons move, and the huge number in absolute terms, we have to consider HOW the electromagnetic wave is influenced by the outer conduction bands of materials and their impurities and structure. I have no clue, but there is an answer somewhere.

I refer to quantum as the energy level of the smallest parts of an atoms, the electron. This might be too big? Exactly where the superimposed electromagnetic field is changed by copper structure or trace metals is the question. It is changed, or we would not have this issue to solve. I tried to solve it by using various coppers only to hear them be different. I’d love to say this is false, as ICONOCLAST is calculated and measured to classic theory, but sometimes you have to say, “I don’t know”.

Galen Gareis


#1043

Here is a thought, not to be taken too seriously.

Copper atoms vibrate based on temperature in solids, they move when an EMF is applied as current and yes, they are still vibrating at the same time they “drift” down the wire.

This raises the funny question, does wire sound better COLD? Wire is worse the hotter it gets in several ways.

And is this in conflict with equipment warm up, which is really trying to get resistances stable as they are temperature variables and alter circuit parameters till they are stable. Electronics would just like to stay cold if it could, as does wire.

Worms aplenty but they are the small red ones verses the big nighcrawlers I’d say. ICONOCLAST demonstrated that good things come from the real sceince classics we know, and not costly theories. The product is here, so the accuracy of that statement can be tested.

Galen Gareis


#1044

Gary, the feedback I am receiving is unanimous for the OFE. We recommend that you try both and make the call on your system and in your home.


#1045

Galen, are you suggesting a supercooled, superconducting line of cables? If so, could they be used to make a rail gun?? SO cool. Oops, a pun. I must now hang my head in shame… :pensive: