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Colnmary
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Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

My interconnects and speaker cables have arrows on indicating to be connected a certain way. Is this snake oil, hoo doo voo doo, or good audio science?

marcelo
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

Watch out, if you connect the cables in the wrong direction, your loudspeaker becomes a mike!.

brdgs, marcelo

Jeff Wong
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

There are arguments that cables can be directional (possibly due to the crystal structure of the metal) and will sound different depending on which way they are hooked up - you'll have to try this yourself to see if you hear a difference. I can think of one instance with interconnects where this might matter - in a braided cable like Kimber, or shielded cable, where the shield has been left unconnected on one end to help with noise reduction, the grounded end is usually recommended to be connected at the receipt side.

Colnmary
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

Maybe its to help the little electrons know which way to go?

adagio
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

It

Colnmary
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

Oh I have my little arrows pointing the right way!

I just wondered if it was science, or marketing.

mike
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

Unbalanced interconnect cables usually have their screen connected at one end only to help avoid a hum loop. For minimum hum the screen grounded end of the cable is generally plugged in at the source end The arrow usually indicates the direction (as expected) from source to destination. As far as speaker cables go I haven't a clue why some should have a direction arrow.

CECE
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

All my pro XLR balanmced connectors, not made by magic factories of teh type that are highly hped in consumner mags, ain't got no arrows, maybe pros know that the wires don't matter? Or they always know which direction to hook up. Oh, and the cables being balanced have a female on one end, and a male on teh other end, this is the pro way of eliminating costly arrows on wires. Why does consumer stuff use wires with males on both ends? Sounds dumb. Would you buy an AC extension cord with teh same male or felame connector on both ends? How come there are no arrows on teh roll of NM (romex) wire, when I wire AC devices, are those electrons too big versus the tiny ones in an audio system?

Uptown1
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

As a couple others have said, many interconnect cables have a shield that is only connected at one end. You can't see which end is which, so they mark the outside of the jacket so you install it correctly. This can also be done on balanced cables although they do have different ends on them so that they are always connected the same way. The speaker cables are labeled simply to show the direction of the flow of the snake oil.
-Bill

ethanwiner
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

Bill,

> The speaker cables are labeled simply to show the direction of the flow of the snake oil. <

Exactly. Audio is AC, so any wire that favors one direction over the other by definition adds distortion.

--Ethan

Monty
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

In some cases, I think the directional arrows are there to ensure that they are connected and reconnected in the same direction. Shielding and directional continuity seems to be the primary reasons for arrows.

Here is an experiment for you guys who doubt the sonic differences in cables and burn-in. The next time you sit down to do some serious listening, several hours worth, disconnect your source interconnect for 3 or 4 minutes at the end of your session. Reconnect the interconnect and play the last song you listened to 3 or 4 times in a row, paying particular attention to the inner detail of the recording. I find a walking bass in a jazz recording to be easy to discern differences.

If you have had 100s of hours of current put through you existing IC, you will likely hear the cable "come-in" at some point during the song.

An even more obvious experiment would be to do the same test with an interconnect that has been out of your system for a couple of months...or even a brand new interconnect. In those cases, you won't hear the cable "come-in" for 10s of hours or longer.

These types of experiments would apply with speaker or IC cable.

Timbre
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

Another interesting experiment is to just reconnect a pair of burned in speakercables in the opposite direction. Start with the last music before the change.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?


Quote:
Another interesting experiment is to just reconnect a pair of burned in speakercables in the opposite direction. Start with the last music before the change.



Sneaky. If you run the music backwards, won't it cancel out the cable reversal?!

Kal

Timbre
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?


Quote:
Sneaky. If you run the music backwards, won't it cancel out the cable reversal?!

Or trying to read the liner notes backwards...

Lighthouse
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?


Quote:
Another interesting experiment is to just reconnect a pair of burned in speakercables in the opposite direction. Start with the last music before the change.

I did this once by accident. At the time, I was using Van De Hul Revelation speaker cable. I was doing some systemmaintenance, and I took out the speaker cables to clean the connections. When I put the cables back in, and fired up the system, it sounded "wrong". The tonal balance was different, and the musical timing was off. I scratched my head for 10 minutes, and then I noticed that the cable was now running the opposite direction to the way it had been. I swapped tha cable round, and everything was back to normal

Dave

CECE
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

you scratched your head for 10 MINUTES!!! Really, did it get down into the missing brain cells? You are halucinating. Now scratch in the other direction and see if the sitch comes back, with equal or more intensity. Proving that the itch has directionalty. Does anyone know how scratching one's head will solve a question? this is as mysterious as being able to hear crystal structure in a piece of wire.

CECE
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?

What are micro diodes?

Jeff Wong
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Re: Who do Some Cables have arrows on showing direction?


Quote:
you scratched your head for 10 MINUTES!!! Really, did it get down into the missing brain cells? You are halucinating. Now scratch in the other direction and see if the sitch comes back, with equal or more intensity. Proving that the itch has directionalty. Does anyone know how scratching one's head will solve a question? this is as mysterious as being able to hear crystal structure in a piece of wire.


Quote:
What are micro diodes?

More importantly, it sounds like you need to know the definition of figure of speech.

GeneZ
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Two possible reasons for arrows...

A shielded cable has the shield connected to only one end of the cable. That end should be connected to the sending component to be effective. That is one reason for an arrow.

With non-shielded cabls I believe the other reason is because over time the cable will become oriented to the direction its placed in. The arrow is to make sure you do not lose this burn in benefit. I have reversed the direction on non shielded cables and it does not sound right after the cable has become burned in.

commsysman
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Cable Shield
GeneZ wrote:

A shielded cable has the shield connected to only one end of the cable. That end should be connected to the sending component to be effective. That is one reason for an arrow.

With non-shielded cabls I believe the other reason is because over time the cable will become oriented to the direction its placed in. The arrow is to make sure you do not lose this burn in benefit. I have reversed the direction on non shielded cables and it does not sound right after the cable has become burned in.

Sorry but that is NOT true. You CAN NOT have a cable with only one single center conductor unless the shield is grounded at both ends!

If a cable has a single center conductor, the shield MUST be connected at both ends to the outer part of the RCA connector. It takes two conductors to make an electrical circuit, so without this connection there is no return path for the signal current, and the cable will not work.

SOME unbalanced (RCA) cables, however, use TWO center conductors for the signal path and one of them is grounded at both ends to complete the signal path. In this case, the shield is only connected at one end. This means there is no signal current flowing in the shield and it is more effective as a shield.

A simple cable with only one center conductor and a shield is very vulnerable to interference, since the signal current must return through the shield and this current is very much subject to interference and signal degradation.

Using two signal conductors plus a shield that is grounded at one end only is therefore a much better system.

commsysman
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Balanced Cables

Balanced cables are very superior to ANY unbalanced cable, because they have two signal conductors, neither of which is connected to ground. The shield is grounded at both ends and is thus extremely effective.

Also, this system is totally immune to interference of any kind, because the receiving circuit only amplifies the DIFFERENCE between the signal voltage on the two signal wires. Any interference would be a common-mode voltage (equal in voltage and phase on both wires) and would be null; not amplified.

This is why ALL professional systems for recording studios and concert venues use ONLY balanced cables. These cables allow runs of 100 feet or more with 0 interference or signal loss, even with tiny signals such as the output of a microphone. An unbalanced (RCA) cable would be useless in these types of systems.