Cables Are like Cholesterol

When we last met our hero, he was troubled by a "muffled, wet" sound coming from one of his speakers.

Will new cables help? Let us find out!

Cables Are like Cholesterol
Ariel Bitran

Speaker wires catch a lot of flack. I think it's because of how hidden they are, how behind-the-scenes they are, thus skeptics label them as unimportant.

Working on the Buyer's Guide and realizing how many different cable manufactures exist, led to some amount of curiosity: there's got to be some logic behind this madness. These cable manufacturers do not all exist simply to steal your money. So why do people always go apeshit whenever you bring up the topic?

As I hope you read in my previous post, I'm building a system, but I felt a total sense of insecurity with my speaker wire connection. The potentially flubbed connection seemed like it was leading to one of my speakers sounding muffled and wet. After all my previous wild hi-fi purchases, I hadn't really saved any money for speaker wire or interconnects, but the idea of banana plugs attracted me due to their ease and security.

I needed about six feet of speaker wire to comfortably set up my speakers and give them room to breathe. With that sort of demand, the cheapest terminated speaker wire on still ran over $100. Stephen then suggested a few lower-priced brands, including Blue Jeans Cables.

I was sold.

After a good hour or so exploring the different options on their website, I went with the website recommended BJC 10 Gauge, a modified version of the Belden 5000 series cable. So with a pair of 6 feet speaker cables and a BJC LC-1 Stereo Audio Cable, I was all set at $107.19. Damn!

Two days of Buyer's Guide slavery passed and then I received a small US Priority Mail package. Inside were three sets of fat-ass cables. Thick like slabs of bacon, protective like coronary arteries, chunky like the cholesterol in those arteries after the bacon.

Holding them felt safe. Maybe they lacked that luxurious lifestyle appeal of the fancier cables with their shiny colors and intricate woven designs, but that's not what I was looking for. I wanted quality, I wanted sturdiness, I wanted comfort. Only to encourage these feelings of security were the locking banana plugs.

My brother and I hooked up my system (as it had to be moved for the air mattress that he was sleeping on). The set-up was fast and easy. There were no questions of doubt or loss.

Unfortunately, the speaker problem persisted where one of the speakers was muddled and damp. I tried out different inputs on the amplifier—it wasn't the input. I tried switching the speaker cables around, but this didn't change anything either—the problem was not the amplifier. I then tried playing a record and the mud persisted in the same speaker—the problem was not in the Y-cable.

Well, the speaker cables made me comfortable, but the persisting loudspeaker problem still irks my every artery. I told JA about my issue, and he took the loudspeakers home to measure. His hypothesis is that the tweeter somehow became disconnected from the woofer. Sounds fixable. Right?

David's picture

I think JA is on to something. You've eliminated most of the likely causes right up to the speaker's binding posts. If you have verified that the jumpers are correctly in place between upper and lower binding posts (that means that there is metal-to-metal contact), then the problem is inside the box. Hopefully JA is right and there is simply a loose, disconnected wire to the tweeter. The worst case scenario is that the crossover or the tweeter has failed. In all cases, this is fixable but possibly at an unattractive cost. If only you had some folks knowledgeable in hi-fi equipment nearby......

Niez's picture

Hm, if it's t h a t easily audible, it would not be the cable, would it? Tried switching and L+R speakers (moving them physically)? That excludes some possibilities too...2009

GEORGE's picture

You gotta be kidding me!! Sounds mud, and i think I'll go buy some over priced pieces of wire!! and these are teh brains at an audio publication! EEEESSSSHHHH, and he plays a guitar, obviously knowing nothing about electric concepts, or how anything works! I'm really depressed. Hmmm, I'm, gonna get a job as an eye surgeon...obviously no knowledge needed if this is who is hired at an AUDIO publication! My amplifier doesn't work, sounds bad, so I'll buy expensive wires! WOW!