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November 2010 editorial

HiFi cables craziness

[Thick cables]
Size matters!

We keep receiving requests for cables listening tests, so many that we believe there are more cables Companies than audiophiles out there. Anyone designs cables. Anyone builds cables. Anyone sells cables. Why? Well, simply put, that's because anyone CAN build cables, after all!
Take thick electric wires, twist and braid 'em in a fancy way, solder HiFi boutique connectors, dress everything with a cool jacket, choose an evocative name, a ridiculously high price tag and you're done. No, not really. You first need a catching advertising campaign, a cool glossy brochure where the usual techno-babble takes place (transparency, directionality, advanced shielding technology, NASA-approved materials, advanced vibration control, patented research etc.). Your high-end cables company is now ready to hit the market.

There are literally thousands of HiFi cables out there. Some cost the price of a mid-class German sedan. Some are commercial, inexpensive cables with just a cool high-end dress. Morever, if your cable is insanely expensive, chances are it will sound extremely good. Years ago the situation wasn't so critical: few brands, good designs and reasonable chances to get what you paid for: performance at a price. Browsing through Internet forums immediately gives you an idea of what's going on nowadays: every month (sometimes every week!) a new cable Company name pops up thanks to some "audiophile" who asks his forum-mates the famous question: "Has anyone ever listened to these new cables?"
Considering how frequently this happens, one might suspect these questions come directly from the new cable Company itself, as it is not difficult to find someone ready to post the question so to raise some interest on the new kid on the block.
When this isn't enough to get the ball rolling new cables Companies ask HiFi magazines to test their new creatures that, needless to say, outperform the competitors in a snap. Oh yes, we do (did) review cables but the rate of No, thanks answers we're giving is rapidly increasing. Our staff has discussed this topic for a while and here are some reasons why we tend to refuse to review cables:

[Cable reels]
Cables reels...audiophiles' Paradise

For these reasons not only we will review less cables than we did before but we will start refusing to offer advices on cables. The best thing to do when choosing a cable is to ask it on loan for a short comparison test inside your own HiFi system. This test will reveal the truth more than a thousand experts' reviews. Luckly, cables don't wear out so getting them on loan (from dealers, friends etc.) is quite easy. Second-hand cables perform like new ones, so the S/H market is more than an option, is almost a must. Moreover, many cable manufacturers use the formula test before you buy which is a good route for the right choice.

We will continue to suggest anyone to try the DIY route, following our simple DIY cables recipes and we will eventually add new designs as soon as we find something which is worth sharing with you. Even if some of our DIY recipes are more than 10 years old, this doesn't mean they are outdated, either. The law of physics and the way electrons travel along a piece of wire don't change following fancy marketing laws. Building your own cables will let you experience, with a negligible amount of cash, the effect of cables on your system and your ears. Don't forget that if you don't hear a difference this doesn't imply it doesn't exist, though. But you should be happy to save some silly money on fancy pieces of wires :-)

We will focus our attention on the key role played by the listening room and the speakers. Reading some online discussion about cables it seems HiFi components and speakers are necessary only to connect cables together!

Summarizing, we felt it was time to say STOP. We were getting tired of endless disputes on cables, audiophiles who swear cables are the first component one should upgrade, others who say a piece of electrical wire is exactly what we need, nothing more than that. The truth, as always, lies in between so, please keep looking at things in the right perspective.
We hope you will appreciate our down to Earth attitude.

© Copyright 2011 Lucio Cadeddu - direttore@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com

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