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  • Writer's pictureSoundSpectrum

Audio Cable Myths

The world of audio cables, including both speaker cables and interconnects, is plagued by a fair share of myths and misconceptions. Audio cable myths often revolve around the belief that more expensive or specially designed cables can significantly improve audio quality. Let's dive into some of the most common ones and separate fact from fiction.

Quality audio cables

Myth #1: Expensive Cables = Better Sound

This is perhaps the most persistent myth. While high-quality materials and construction can offer benefits like increased durability and flexibility, blind tests consistently show minimal to no audible difference between expensive and standard cables for most listeners, especially in typical home audio setups. The perceived difference often comes down to the placebo effect or psychological factors associated with the price tag.

Myth #2: Thicker Cables = Better Sound

While thicker cables can handle higher currents and reduce resistance over long runs, they don't automatically translate to better sound quality in most home audio applications. Standard gauge cables are perfectly adequate for typical speaker distances and wattages. Only in high-power or very long cable runs might thicker gauges offer any real benefit.

Myth #3: Gold-plated Connectors = Superior Sound

Gold plating can be beneficial for preventing corrosion and increasing durability, but its impact on sound quality is largely negligible. Blind tests have shown no discernible difference between gold-plated and standard connectors in terms of audio fidelity.

Myth #4: Cables Need "break-in" for Optimal Sound

This myth stems from a misunderstanding of how copper, the main component of most audio cables, behaves. Copper's electrical properties don't significantly change over time simply by being used, so the concept of "break-in" has no scientific basis and is unlikely to improve sound quality.

Myth #5: Exotic Cable Materials Offer Superior Sound

Oxygen-free cables for example are marketed as having superior sound quality due to less signal degradation. However, in practical use, the difference in sound quality is usually unnoticeable.

While different materials might have slightly different electrical properties, their impact on sound quality is usually too subtle for most listeners to discern. Terms like "brighter" or "warmer" often describe these differences, which are subjective and not objectively measurable.

Myth #6: Directional Cables are Better

Some cables are sold as directional, implying that they perform better when the signal flows in a specific direction. There's little scientific basis for this, as audio signals can travel either way without loss in quality.

So, What Actually Matters for Good Sound?

  • Source material: High-quality, lossless audio formats like FLAC or WAV will sound considerably better than compressed formats like MP3.

  • Equipment quality: Invest in good speakers and amplifiers that match your listening preferences and room acoustics.

  • Proper setup and placement: Optimize your speaker positioning for ideal soundstage and room acoustics.

  • Good quality, well-made cables: Choose cables that are appropriate for your specific needs and ensure they are properly terminated and shielded to minimize interference.

Are Audio Cables Snake Oil? 

Not entirely. While some high-end cables might offer minor benefits like increased durability or better aesthetics, their impact on sound quality is often negligible and not worth the exorbitant price tag. For most listeners, a well-made, basic cable at a reasonable price will be perfectly sufficient.

Remember, good audio cables should transparently deliver the signal from your source to your speakers without adding any unwanted noise or distortion. Don't get swayed by marketing hype and spend your money on expensive, "magical" cables. Focus on the factors that truly impact your sound quality and enjoy the music!


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