Is Galen Gareis the ultimate wizard of cables?

Galen, are you quite the ultimate wizard in cable design?
I know you strive for an affordable product that is good enough for anything, but not precisely the best possible solution that physics allow, since that last bit of added quality (cryomagnetically treated UP-OCC silver, etc…) gets too expensive. Very expensive, and can we even hear an increase in sound quality with extreme materials? They might surely sound different but is there a consensus that over-the-top cables sound precisely better?

I’m interested in your opinion on, say, Siltech and CrystalCable.

I’m no better than what I’ve presented and explained that ICONOCLAST is based off of. I wouldn’t say 35 years of apprentiship in an art makes you ultimate anything other than having more and more practical experience to apply and those practices comes from the people around you! I can’t say I found a single solitary new aspect of physics making ICONOCLAST, nope, not a one. I use the physics and the tools to evaluate change prior to design changes to improve the electrical balance. And that’s my definition of where I want the cable measurements to go. Anyone can say that my decision of balance is right or wrong, but it is defined in the design, it won’t change based on opinion. It went where I designed it to go.

One of those tenants is that better DESIGN trumps materials assuming you use a material appropriate for that application. So let’s get closer to how the EM wave responds to the geometry and time based physics. Do we have ways to improve the design? Does a better, more expensive design, although absolutely better in measure and calculation apply in use?

ICONOCLAST is an experiment to provide truthfully better peer reviewed analysis of cables. Do they work in auditioin? We sell the DESIGN and the specifications that a design attains, not the sound. A cable can’t potentially sound better if it isn’t measuring better to known and proper attributes.

ALL Belden design cables attain specific electrical parameters that are better and better but more and more expensive (Ethernet 1200, 2400, 3600 and 4800 cable series as an example). We sell no cable at all based on how colorful a CATV cable is, or how responsive an Ethernet cable is or how beautiful an audio cable sounds. We sell the specifications and those can’t be defined as a sound any more than color or digital responsiveness can define the look or feel of a system. We don’t know digital cable’s specification superiority, but we do feel the web page load time and judge the overall system’s responsiveness.

So no, I don’t think more $$$ copper has the expectation to sound better. Why? Where is the beef that says it has to? We COULD use pure resistivity. Lower is better, to say less grains is a better wire. True. But resistance is a passive attribute to sound. We are sensitive to time based issues more than amplitude. How are those time based variables changed as grains go down?

Please, please remember that we listen to the EM wave traveling down the wire. THAT is our signal. At any point in time all the signals are superimposed on on top of the other and added up. That’s at the staring point of a wire. The PHASE of all those signals is indeed the amplitude of the voltage at that instant. As the voltage goes down the wire, and like a square wave it is really a composition of frequencies and the voltage signal distorts in amplitude and phase at all the frequency’s Vp relative to all the others. This is group delay. This changes the EM wave from it’s input properties. If it doesn’t we have magic wire since all wire is a distortion over time. In the end, of the wire (ha!) we listen to that final EM wave property and what ever changed it enough to hear. Some will argue we change stuff we can’t measure but can hear. Fair enough. I didn’t use that logic making ICONOCLAST is all. My choice.

A lower resistivity wire will have MORE Vp non linearity built into the design as it is in the denominator of the Vp speed equation. That’s worse, not better for that attribute. Is lower resistance worth worse Vp linearity? We could RAISE the capacitance to offset the lower resistance. But higher capacitance impacts amplifier stability some.

Since the real resistance value is so low in our assemblies the change is symantics. What matters is if the conductor material presents a sound that is identified as more enjoyable…or not. ICONOCLAST provide the exact same core cable design across RCA, XLR and speaker differing only by the copper to allow anyone to trial the experiment of what the copper influences. No hidden agenda…the copper has to be different or just buy the cheaper version and even that has to be a better sounding cable than a typical reference design; 1694A, 1800F and 1313A.

Blue Jeans sells ALL the reference designs and you can compare and contrast every cable, RCA, XLR and speaker cables. They all measure differently and use more and more elaborate designs to get those measurements as all the tech papers explain. Is the true electrical benefit on the lab bench better in your system in use? Is 4800 Ethernet cable better than 1200? The specs aren’t the same but how does that translate to in-use differences? The numbers don’t tell you anymore than the current specs on a loudspeaker will until you until you listen to it.

As we learn more we can identify what provides a better EM wave input to output. That’s, of course, that the differences are impacting the needed end point requirements. I provided a series of cables that are better so now customers can really tell with ICONOCLAST why they are better and if that means anything in use. You can look at it as a thumb your nose at expensive cable or the opposite, it supports better cable electrical in audio. They remain electrically better no matter what, and that’s what we sell, but we need better soundings cable not just the specs. For that you have to use them and listen. This is why it is 100% money back no questions asked.

Galen Gareis


Nuts :slight_smile:

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Can you point me to any of your papers where you discuss eddy currents? I tried doing a search.
I’d like to understand how they effect input vs output over a cable.

Ron, no papers on Eddy currents andmagnetic field science is REALLY hard stuff. The geometric shape of a low permeability material (allows flux lines to easily travel within it) can form pretty wild fields. Can they influence the EM signal? Sure, as they absorb and dissipate energy that is part of the EM signal in a wire when they are created.

In the ICONOCLAST cables I use counter magnetic fields to cancel inductance. These aren’t Eddy currents but the PRIMARY magnetic fields. An Eddy current is a secondary induced magnetic field perpendicular to the original field.

Cable by itself isn’t a problem with Eddy currents, but changes in magnetic permeability can cause unwanted eddy current magnetic fields which oppose the original magnetic field via Lenz’s Law. Think what happens inside a connector and the changing magnetic fields based on geometry. It can get very complicated.

Eddy current is a distortion usually counter, and perpendicular, to the original EM field. We see a lot of non magnetic material used in electronics to prevent weird Eddy current loops. Since we create them with current flow inductively coupled, Eddy fields are counter to the “normal” EM field and they absorb power and dissipate it as heat.

Go here; Introduction to Eddy Current Testing | Olympus IMS
to see how eddy currents are created. Basically a known magnetic field in a wire (or anything) that is brought near a low permeability material for magnetic flux will transfer energy through induction into that magnetically conductive material. The closer you get the more the material couples to said surface and the worse the losses as the incident magnetic field is parasitically absorbed into the adjacent surface to create the new field. This example shows how DEFECTS can be found with eddy currents as the probe will show a CHANGE in the induction energy when the probe is over a defect. The flaw creates a distortion in the eddy current field.



Thanks for your answer Galen
Are “counter magnetic fields, cancelling inductance” via geometry? Does dielectric also play a role?

Dielectric effects capacitance only. Magnetic fields are distance derived. The dielectric doesn’t matter. Closer wire spacing is better to reduce the loop area that increases inductance, but reduces capacitance. L and C go in opposite directions.

Yes, the geometry has to be carefully balanced to align magnetic fields, not eddy currents, to cancel. A single bonded pair used in ICONOCLAST speaker cable has 0.126 uH/foot inductance. With counter field cancellation that drops to 0.08 uH/foot nominal in the final assembly. It measurably works. This does mean capacitance goes up from 12.5 pF/foot to 45 pF/foot so that aspect is also working. Due to geometry shuffling of the weave the design keeps the total capacitive build lower by increasing the average spacing of the wires and not changing the magnetic field spacing geometry responsible for the inductance value.

Counter directional magnetic fields cancel. This technically reduces eddy currents as the field that inductively causes eddy currents is smaller. No magnetic fields mean no inductance and automatically means no eddy currents can be induced in adjacent material. Another advantage to keep inductance low is less inductrive coupling eddy current losses. Many systems want a HIGH magnetic field.


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Thanks Galen. I actually understood most of that. I think. Possibly. Probably not.
Anything new arrive in your driveway yet?

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No not yet. Should be next week. It’s in the port of Baltimore. It is going to rain all this week anyway. Takes about two days to deliver once it is released from port. All the stuff on my end is done. Insurance, payment and all that. Oh, and a 128 Gig SD chip with FLAC files for the stereo! More than likely the DA and AD chip doesn’t use anything too exotic in a car. It is hard to find what car stereo bit rates are.


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How can your designs or approaches be applied to circuit design within a chassis?

I would suspect (???) that cuicuits, both traces and wires, withing a product could benefit from applying this knowledge.

Have you looked at how you could apply your approaches, or knowledge to actual circuit design?

Bruce in Philly

Vendors already do this tech to lower eddy curents. T+A and others, for instance, use all non magnetic chassis, so I’m no where near a wizard on this. It’s pretty old tech and since eddy currents are parasitic off the “normal” magnetic field it is destructive to the signal to some degree and especially in non uniform complex geometries.

As far as circuit board themselves, the trace tech definitely has to pay attention to capacitance and inductive properties and thus, if eddy currents are too destructive. Get a magnetic field near a conductive metal will create an induced eddy current and another from of signal distortion. Usually, parasitic eddy current is pretty minor and not to be considered too extremely. Considered, yes, but you know how we all can be!

The solution to eddy currents has typically been to keep conductive metal away from circuit boards. Magnetic fields are squared law so a little more distance lowers eddy currents a lot with even a metal chassis so don’t get too concerned if you have a metal chassis. Given some room and all can be fine. Want to make something REALLY small and compact and aluminum is better, yes, especially with small voltage signals (less than 1 volt) that don’t have a lot to lose.


Could this be an argument for thinner conductors?

The ratio of distance S and the diameter D determines the inductance over length. We want the RATIO to be SMALL, as like in ZERO (not possible, of course) to remove inductance entirely. The bigger the ratio of S to D the higher the inductance as the “loop area” gets bigger and bigger between wires by definition. A smaller wire, D, would increase the ratio for a set spacing, S. We have to reduce S and D both to hold the same ratio, or make S even tighter (less insulation) to lower inductance.

Look at the picture above too, the eddy current is a field perpendicular to the normal magnetic field so wire spacing isn’t changing that distance as the normal field gets closer and closer to the metal plate. But a lower inductance has a smaller increasing and collapsing magnetic field so lower inductance is an advantage to reduce eddy currents. But, you can’t always pile on one variable if improving that markedly alters other and possibly more critical variables. This is why complex geometries are tough to optimize.

Thanks Galen

“NEVER” ask Galen if he is the “ultimate wizard” of cable design! His answer will always be something to the effect and nature of the response you received. Galen is “ultra” modest about his knowledge and understanding of cable design. This something I never understood because without question his understanding of signal transmission over copper is “absolutely and without question” and by light years, unsurpassed.

There is a reason that Galen spent his entire career leading the way at Belden. When I say “leading the way,” I did not mean in a business sense or part of the management team. That part of the organization realizing what they had, kept Galen locked in the laboratory of cable design. While they enjoyed steak diners and fine wine at dinners and flew around the country making deals and growing sales, Galen was responsible for coming up with ways to increase the performance of existing products and coming up with the next great product in the evolution of technology. And yes, there is multitudes of consideration that go into and result into a cable design.

I consider myself to be an “old guy” who has been around long enough to have gained at least a basic understanding and more so, an appreciation for this evolution and history of what we now call “high-end” audio. My first system came disguised as a suitcase when in reality it was a Westinghouse turntable with attached but moveable speakers. I think I was 9 or 10-years old and I was hooked.

I have been “blessed” to have as a result of circumstances to have made a mid-life change that steered me into this great industry. And for nearly 30-years I have traveled the country from side to side and top to bottom meeting countless enthusiast through sales calls, presentations and trade shows. My first CEDIA was on Long Island standing next to Frank White while the 50-mph winds and torrential rains about blew us away. The same thing happened years later when the CEDIA event in New Orleans experienced nearly 20-inches of rain allowing us to paddle a canoe through the lobby of our hotel. Many years I would visit Las Vegas at CES spending hours and hours at Alexis Park going from room to room learning and experiencing lots of incredible though at time bazaar stereo equipment. As a Madrigal/Levinson dealer I would many years be treated to parties at the top of Bally’s where you were greeted by a string quartet and food and drink fit for kings.

I have had also been blessed and had the honor of having a beer with, speaking with or listening to presentations and talks from some of the industry giants over the years. I took interest in the early players even before Bell Laboratories and that in many cases died before I was born. If you want to really know and understand the greats, look at some of these guys… Most are long gone but largely responsible for what we enjoy today. These were just some of the “smart guys!”

Edgar Villchur
Henry Kloss
Clinton Davisson
William Shockley
Dr. Lee De Forest
Tom Colangelo
George Carrington

Matthew Polk
Mark Levinson
Nelson Pass
John Curl
Galen Gareis

Of course there are others who have made great contributions to our hobby and industry.

Ha, you noticed who I included in this list… “Galen” is well deserved and will without question be recognized as “the” cable designer. There is no one else who can hold a candle to Galen and his knowledge. Though theory is nice, application is better. If anyone has a name for consideration, I would be very, very interested to know who they are.

Now if I can just get Galen to be more “humble!”

Hope everyone has a great weekend.


Nancy and I eat in a small restaurant in Liberty Indiana on the weekend. They have a bunch of cute signs all over the wall and one reads, “NEW WORK INCENTIVE PLAN - Work or be fired”.

OK, I did that for awhile but anyone who does their best at their job is a genius in my book. So few do it we give them the name genius, when EVERYBODY can actually be one. Who you are is what you do. I don’t think I’ve done anything I haven’t explained with current physics applied to our hobby. The physics is there but is it REALLY a benefit? We can test that improvement and test hearing it for ourselves. Seems fair. Test numbers are still just numbers.

My Dad gave me a simple civics test;

  • Leave people and places in equal or better shape than when you arrived.
  • Trust what people do, not what they say.
  • You are who you hang with.

The three statements above apply to everything I’ve ever done in life and yes, if I didn’t work after taking pay I’d expect to get fired (rule number one). Compare your actions and treatment of others and the world around you to those three simple statements. They won’t ever let you down.

Let’s not go overboard with stuff other people do that we see and that we don’t understand. Given the same experiences there are plenty that could do as well or better than they or even I have. It is all about who you hang with and doing your best. We can all decide to do our best. No one should be ashamed of doing your best even in light of others that can do better. The metric is YOU. We all know when we are slacking. We all feel wonderful inside when we reach a new level of achievement and nothing compares to that yet we so many times try to avoid the experience. People are odd in this way.

I just had three magic sentences to guide me that worked. Other than that, I’m still you.



Good “stuff”.


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Your Dad was a wise man

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