A POINT OF VIEW: The cable puzzle

Paul McGowan writes ......

For many years I let logic override my listening abilities. Instead of making every decision in the stereo system by careful A/B testing, some decisions were made with logic, others common sense. There are frankly too many variables to listen to them all.

Engineering logic suggests power amplifiers have the easiest time driving complex loads, like speakers and their connecting cables. Power amps have gobs of current—unlike preamps with low impedance, but not much to pump watts. And theoretically it doesn’t take watts to drive cables of either variety: speaker or interconnect, but whatever it takes, power amplifiers surely have more than preamplifiers.

My assumption had always been that short interconnects trumped long ones. Preamps and DACs are good at small signal control, but I wasn’t so sure of their ability to drive long cables. And to be honest, I hadn’t given interconnects as much attention as I had speaker cables. In fact, the greatest differences I had ever heard was from speaker cables. Interconnects made differences, but not like speaker cables.

I remember the first demo I ever had of a cable difference. Mike Moffat, then of Theta—now of Schiit—demonstrated the difference between zip cord and Cobra Cables to me in the early 1970s. I was stunned that wire sounded different. It was a new concept for me, one I shall never forget.

So, I always put my hard earned dollars into the best speaker cables I could and gave reasonable lip service to the lowly interconnect, keeping them as short as possible.