Do speaker and audio cables have a major impact on system performance? The question has ignited many heated arguments in forums and on audio blogs, but the debate has also generated a number of myths surrounding audio cables that have continued to circulate through the years. To clear up some of the misconceptions, we’ve compiled a list of Myths and Truths to help you make the best decision possible when sorting through the great audio cable debate.
Myth – Audio cables have no effect on the performance of your system
Truth – Low quality speaker and component connections can be susceptible to different forms of interference, which has been proven to add noise and effect audio signal quality. Replacing it with properly shielded, high quality cables lets your system perform to its full potential.
Myth – Rare Materials and expensive engineering techniques are required to make premium audio cables
Truth – If cables are solidly engineered with proven design principles and high quality materials, you can achieve the same level of performance at a fraction of the cost.
Myth – Scientific miracles to solve ͞Skin Effect͟ are worth the huge price tag
Truth – Skin Effect͟ refers to the fact that higher frequencies have a tendency to travel on the outside of a wire while lower frequencies stay closer to the center. While this is a proven occurrence, ͞skin effect͟ is not proven to alter sound in any way when dealing with the cable run distances in a home theater or audio system.
Myth – Exotic braiding of audio cables enhances performance
Truth – Many cable manufacturers use twisted conductors in their cable to reduce crosstalk and interference noise, but there is no solid evidence to support the claim that intricately braided wires within a cable improve performance. The purity of the cable’s conductive materials and its ability to reject interference have a much more profound effect on performance
Myth – Audio cables have to be the same length for greatest accuracy
Truth – Electrons in a metal cable move at close to the speed of light. That being said, a one-foot cable would have a delay on the order of nanoseconds. Considering this, the signal in your cables is passed almost instantaneously.
Myth – Break-in of cables is necessary for optimal performance
Truth – This myth is much more subjective as many people claim there are perceptible improvements in sound quality after speaker and audio cables have had time to ͞break-in͟ over the first hundred hours or so. Even so, there is no scientific evidence to support an improvement in sound quality and certainly it’s not worth paying for break-in as an added service or feature.
Myth – The thickest gauge of audio cable is always best
Truth – For extremely long runs, a thicker gauge of wire can help reduce the effects of resistance, but if your amplifier or AV receiver is within 100 feet of the speakers, a 14-gauge cable is ideal.
If you’re interested in learning more about speaker cables, check out our Sound Experts post on Why High Quality Speaker and Interconnect Cables Matter.
Do you have any speaker cable or audio myths you’d like debunked, or want to debunk one yourself? Leave it in the comments.