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A Technical Introduction to Audio Cables

Written by Adam Blake

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How a cable lets outside sources of energy affectrepparttar signal

As stated previously,repparttar 138186 second fundamental way of altering a signal passing through an audio cable is to introduce outside sources of energy. This outside energy is typically termed "noise". By definition, if any energy is absorbed by repparttar 138187 signal,repparttar 138188 signal has been distorted.

There are many potential sources of noise around audio cables. Some ofrepparttar 138189 more common sources of noise, such as radio frequency waves, are familiar to most people. When wiring up a radio, frequently a consumer must attach an antenna. Antennae are intentionally designed to channel radio frequency energy into a stereo. Just like an antenna, it is entirely possible for an audio cable to pick up radio frequency energy. If you are not intending to listen torepparttar 138190 radio, this is not a welcome effect. Electronic components, electrical cords, sound waves, and evenrepparttar 138191 sun, are all capable of creating noise. Electrical cords create electromagnetic fields around them that can transfer energy to a cable. Sound waves create mechanical vibrations that can be transformed into electrical energy that is added to an audio signal. Because there are so many different types of noise, there are many methods used to prevent a cable from picking up noise. Shielding, twisting of conductors, and mechanical damping are all common noise protection methods in cables.

While noise affects both interconnects and loudspeaker cables, generallyrepparttar 138192 effects are far more significant in interconnects. This is becauserepparttar 138193 signals inrepparttar 138194 interconnects have far less energy. Since most forms of noise are inherently low energy to begin with, this means that it is far easier for them to modifyrepparttar 138195 low energy interconnect signals thanrepparttar 138196 high-energy loudspeaker cable signals.

Macro vs. Micro

The parameters discussed so far have been primarily "macro" effects. These are forrepparttar 138197 most partrepparttar 138198 top-level parameters that effect cables. These parameters as well as others not discussed here also exist at a "micro" level. Taking capacitance as an example, a given cable will have an overall capacitance that can be measured. This overall capacitance is a "macro" level parameter. The same cable can also be analyzed as 1000 separate but connected pieces. Each piece will have a local capacitance. These local parameters are "micro" effects and can have their own impact onrepparttar 138199 signal separate fromrepparttar 138200 "macro" effects.

The impact thatrepparttar 138201 "micro" level parameters have on an audio signal is usually less thanrepparttar 138202 impact ofrepparttar 138203 "macro" level parameters. However, they do still make a difference inrepparttar 138204 signal transfer. The various ways that audio companies choose to either mitigate or ignore these "micro" level details is, in part, responsible forrepparttar 138205 vast array of different cable designs. From cryogenic treatments and precious metal wires, to fine silk insulation and fluid filled cable jackets; extreme cable designs abound. Will I hearrepparttar 138206 difference?

The fact ofrepparttar 138207 matter is that cables do alterrepparttar 138208 sound going through them, and that it is audible. You do not need to be an expert, or an audiophile, to hearrepparttar 138209 difference. To demonstrate this point, simply listen to your stereo. If you close your eyes, does it sound likerepparttar 138210 music is being played live right in front of you? This is what audiophiles strive for, and unless you have a very high-fidelity system, your answer to this question will most likely be no. You may have a hard time describing what exactly does not sound right about your system, but you know that it doesn't sound like a live performance.

Of course,repparttar 138211 reason whyrepparttar 138212 music does not sound live cannot be blamed solely onrepparttar 138213 cables. The degradation of repparttar 138214 sound occurs in every component of your system. However, repparttar 138215 point here is that even a casual listener can detectrepparttar 138216 subtle distortions that can prevent music playback from sounding live. Improvingrepparttar 138217 quality of your audio cables will improverepparttar 138218 sound quality of your system.

It is fairly safe to say that no matter what cable you use, repparttar 138219 modifications torepparttar 138220 sound will be small. Audio cables will never cause a listener to hear a piano when a flute is being played. However, it isrepparttar 138221 small detail that makes all repparttar 138222 difference between good and bad quality sound. That is why very strong opinions are formed about various cables. As audio systems continue to improve in accuracy, listening to a "live" performance in your living room gets closer to reality. Cables are an enabling factor for advancements in audio reproduction and can play a remarkably important role in your system.

Written by: Adam Blake CEO / Co-Founder Pear Cable, Inc. For a more detailed explanation of cable design theory that Pear Cable thinks is relevant, seerepparttar 138223 "cable design" white paper available on

Adam Blake is CEO and Co-Founder of Pear Cable, Inc., a manufacturer of high-fidelity audio cables.

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