Continuing on from the investigations into LCR parameters for speaker cables started a few weeks ago, today, let's have a look at a few more cables with the REED Instruments R5001 (remember there are limitations of course but comparisons can still be made across cables). As you can see in the previous article, the cables I measured were zip-cord types compared to my DIY "Colorful Speaker Cable". Today, let's look at commercial speaker cable offerings and check out some numbers for each.
Among the cables in the montage above, notice that I do have a more "exotic" cable, the silver conductor, Slinkylinks Biwire with gold banana plugs (asking price back in the early 2010 for 4m/13' was NZ$1840 = ~US$1100 today). As with last time, let's go through the measurements one by one, ending off with those Slinklinks.
I. NB Speaker Cables - "The Vigilante" (~AUD$160 = ~US$100 for 4m pair currently)First, let's start with something you can get easily today! Remember I mentioned last time that NB Speaker Cables specifically aims at making "no BS" products? Well, they read the blog post and sent a pair of 4m/13-feet "The Vigilante" cables (AUD$80 per cable) to try out. That's nice of them...
Here they are just out of the package:
The inconspicuous black meshed sleeve evokes a Dark Knight theme. They're made in Australia with twin parallel 11AWG OFC copper conductors, PVC insulation, of moderate flexibility. They have robust gold banana plugs that make excellent contact with speakers and amp. Non-biwirable - not an issue of course (they have the new "Dr. Octopus" if you need this). "NB Speaker Cables" brand labeled on the adhesive shrink wrap on each end of the cable. For the same price and performance, you can get their colorful alternatives like "The Superhero" and "The Villain".
Cable measurements off the meter:
As usual, I calculated the insertion loss using the 10kHz resistance result. These are very small numbers as one would expect from good quality 11AWG cables. Most importantly, resistance is very low. Similar to my "Colorful Speaker Cable", notice the resistance jump from 10kHz to 100kHz related to skin effect with the thick 11AWG cables - interesting phenomenon to measure but it's not going to have an effect at audible frequencies.
The "filtering effect" of this cable is nice and low (average of 10kHz and 100kHz inductance and capacitance - 1.26μH, 239pF for 10' length used):
So for a 10' length with 4Ω load, the 20kHz roll-off would be around -0.0065dB or so with -2.2° phase shift. No issue whatsoever; speaker cables should not have a significant "filter" effect of course.
Subjectively these cables sound great. I connected them to my setup between the Hypex NC252MP amp and my Paradigm Signature Reference S8 v.3 speakers. Excellent detail with beautiful microdynamics on Bernard Labadie & Les Violons du Roy's Bach: Goldberg Variations. Sounds great with louder pop/rock/R&B recordings as well - I quite like Alicia Key's recent single Underdog and The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" off After Hours (2020, DR6 - clearly no need for 24-bit version!).
They measure very well with low resistance, inductance and capacitance. No-nonsense, no snake oil, well made product at a good price that surprisingly shipped quickly from Australia to Canada in the midst of the current pandemic (took about 2 weeks to arrive)! Thanks NB Cables for the opportunity to give these a listen and for measurement comparisons.
II. Raymond Cables (~US$125 for 4.5m pair 12 years ago)
I bought these cables about 12 years ago when I was still in my previous house. These are 15'/4.5m long 10AWG cables, non-biwirable, with very nice angled locking banana plugs. These are also very well made cables IMO. I paid around US$125 for them back in the day.
I don't know if the company is still making these and I can't find a website for the company so perhaps not any more. The sound is excellent. My dad has been using these to connect to his Klipsch Forté I speakers for years.
As expected, with a 10AWG cable, resistance is very low. Down at levels comparable to my "Archimago's Colorful Speaker Cable" from last time with 9AWG combined gauge. Inductance is a little higher than both the Colorful Cable and "The Vigilante" above with lower capacitance. The "filtering effect" of this cable is as expected, essentially nothing (average of 10kHz and 100kHz inductance and capacitance - 1.91μH, 218.5pF for 10'):
Into 4Ω load, the 20kHz roll-off would be -0.015dB or so with -3.3° phase shift. Absolutely nothing of concern. Well made cables, recommended.
III. Canare 4S11 "Star Quad" DIY Speaker Cables
Years ago, I made my DIY speaker cables with these. As you may recall, these cables are from Japan, they can be had for DIY construction at a good price, usually <$2/ft (so 2 x 15' cables will need 30' = <$60). Internally, there are 4 conductors, each one 14AWG so a pair combined for each polarity would be 11AWG, similar to "The Vigilantes" above. Blue Jeans will make these with welded connectors for <US$75 per 15' cable ($140-150 for a pair).
Note that I made rather short lengths of this cable back in 2014 - each one <5' - so the measurements are definitely hitting the limits of the REED R5001 meter. Nonetheless, here are the results I got: