ONLINE - ISSUE 30
We sent out the same 20 questions to 50 manufacturers, the following are their responses. The intent of the survey is to address basic questions as to design along with any questions raging on various sites, while minimizing potential chest-thumping and friendly, or unfriendly, bashing of others....
Jerry Ramsey of Audio Magic
PFO Why do cables make a difference–interconnects, speaker cables and AC power cords?
Jerry Ramsey The same reason good amps, speakers, CD players, preamps make a difference, cables are a component of the system as well. Just remember your system is as good as its weakest link. The better the cable technology, the better the parts used [connectors, solder, conductors, dielectric etc.] the better sound you will get.
PFO What about metals …copper versus silver versus gold versus what? What about blends?
JR We committed to Silver only. Many years ago , in fact we were the first of the Silver only companies so we have vast experience with that conductor. As a conductor Silver has no equal, the resistance of 4n Copper is 4.4% higher than 4n Silver and this figure gets higher with age. As Copper ages it develops a skin of copper oxide [which is a semi conductor] as Silver ages it creates a skin of silver oxide which quite frankly is a better conductor than the silver it self, in a nut shell silver based cables get better as they age and copper gets much worse. Silver is also one of the most resistive conductors to crystalline damage and Copper is one of the worst. One of the down falls of Silver is the cost ...we spend much, much more than a Copper based cable manufacturer has to for his or her conductors. We also experimented with gold conductors, but found the Gold to be way too soft with a lack of detail and dynamics, not to mention cost. Our Trinium line is a gold, silver, copper blend which sounds very good [smooth, detailed, dynamic, great staging] although not as neutral as I prefer. The only reason we did this cable was pressure from some of our dealers that wanted another flavor.
PFO What about dielectrics… Teflon versus what?
JR The best you can do is an air dielectric with vacuum but trying to maintain the vacuum makes this approach impractical, we use mainly air, Teflon, and a few different types of FEPs. How do you choose a certain dielectric? A lot depends on the type of conductor you are using, its geometry, construction constraints, what sonic value you are trying to achieve.
PFO What about measurements …What do they tell us? What do they not to tell us?
JR In cable design everyone has their own idea of how much capacitance and inductance is associated with their cables, you must take into consideration such things as eddy currents, phase issues, noise, etc. I have measured cables that range from one end of the spectrum to the other, while I realize you must use sound design techniques, I base most of my analysis on sound, which is why I have spent a ton of money on the ultimate measuring device ...MY SYSTEM. Every product that we release has had countless listening hours to ensure my customer is getting the best product possible for his or her money.
PFO What about the connectors …how important?
JR Connectors are huge in cable design, they can make or break you, which is why we have spent a lot of time and money to find the perfect connector for each design. Note; not every connector works with every design.
PFO Why this geometry …ribbon, twisted, braided, spiraled…?
JR Speaking from a Silver point of view, we have found that Silver behaves better in a ribbon conductor although we still use solids and multi conductor bundles for different applications. Depending on what type of material you are using and what sonic goals you have, will determine the type of conductor you will choose.
PFO What about cryoing? What is going on with this?
JR We Cryo treat all our conductors to address resonance issues and we MST treat all conductors to enhance the crystalline structure of the wire which improves conductivity and lowers the noise floor.
PFO Why shielding? Why not shielding?
JR Shielding is simply to protect the cable from noise, RF rich environments can benefit from good shielding, however if one is not careful, shielded cables can have an adverse affect on the sound.
PFO What about run-in? Why is/isn't it important?
JR All cables need some amount of burn in before they can sound their best, when current is flowing through a conductor on a molecular level things are being re-arranged to allow for maximum current flow, when current runs smoother things sound better. Silver conductors usually take longer to break-in than say copper, we believe this is due to the crystalline lattice structure.
PFO What about length? Why are/aren't they important?
JR I have always been a subscriber to longer interconnects and shorter speaker cables, If you are running really long lengths of interconnect, balanced would be a great choice or single ended shielding would be nice so noise does not become to big of a factor. One has to keep in mind the greater the length the higher the overall capacitance becomes, thus affecting highs and upper midrange, using a cable with a lower pf factor would be preferable. Since most speaker cables are not shielded they can become vulnerable to noise so shorter is better and cheaper, if your speaker cables are too, long don't coil them up or you will have a big inductor on your hands. It's best to have them cut to proper length.
PFO What is directionality?
JR We primarily mark our cables direction so once broken in current will always flow in that direction [a reminder should you unhook them and can't remember how they were before]. Some designers employ drain wires and other such things to affect a cables performance, thus directionality is important.
PFO How did you get into this?
JR Music has always been a passion of mine. While working at a local audio store, we got in Tara Labs cables. Of course I had to have their best and my system required a lot of them, unfortunately for me about the time I got the last pair I needed [which was every 6 months or less] Tara came out with a new best cable and I had to start all over again. I finally decided to put my electronics training and my passion for music to good use and I went to work designing my first cable, 3 months later we had a blind shootout with several company's top cables, and to my astonishment I won, thus the monster was born.
PFO What is your fundamental design philosophy/goal?
JR I simply design all my products to be neutral [do their job and get out of the way]. If you're looking to use a cable to hide or enhance something, look at someone else's cable, you won't find it here. Using cables in this way is not the proper way to design a really good system. As always each product is designed to be the biggest bang for the buck at every price point.
PFO How do you approach accomplishing those philosophies/goals?
JR Just the simple love of music and the hope I can bring happiness into someone else's life and a lot of hard work.
PFO How successful do you feel you have been at achieving the goals that you have set for yourself?
JR Very successful! just ask most anyone who has tried my products.
PFO How do you plan to push beyond what you have already accomplished?
JR I will do what I have always done... let the love of this great hobby guide me, things just happen.
PFO Others that you admire?
JR I admire others that share the same passion for this hobby as I do, I have no use for people that just want to move product for financial gain with no sincere passion for our hobby and it will always show up in their products.