MICROPHONY: In speaker cables … the definitive proof, with a sting in the tail


Permit me, if I may, to offer a different (but not necessarily superior) perspective on this.

A few years back, I was invited by a designer of high-end speakers, to visit his development suite in Salzburg, Austria. All expenses paid. Unlimited coffee and cake and so on. An opinion on a new idea was all that was expected in exchange for this generosity.

In the demo room stood a pair of speakers whose characteristics I knew very well indeed. Plus a large Accuphase pre / power and CD player, a Type 85v I believe. The speakers cable did NOT touch the floor. They rested on a series of what looked like mini indoor trampolines.

Each of this, via set of cables was connected to a ‘black box’ and thence to a simple hand controller with only on and off control. I was invited to inspect all this, and using my own CDs, listen to music via these familiar speakers at the volume I liked.

Nothing was said.

No instructions given.

No expectations raised.

Cake ‘n coffee was duly consumed. And then, the demonstration.

My choice of music was again played but this time, with the hand controller switched ON. In retrospect, I do believe that from a psychoacoustic standpoint, having it on first, then switched off, was influential. Anyway, I was free to switch between on and off as frequently as I wished.

To reiterate, at no point was I given prior warning of what to expect.

All that was required was for me to see if I heard a difference – no more and no less.

All and any discussion of preferences – within this context – was requested to be ignored. No dialogue … only if I heard the difference or not. That was it. A slight diversion here in that this was similar to a visit from the global head of engineering Kenwood in the late 1970s regarding a discovery they had made.

Anyway …

The difference between on and off was noticeable, irrespective of the music played but the degree varied with the spl.

Clearly, and this was confirmed after the experiment, that the mini-trampolines, black box, cable and other paraphernalia was a prototype feedback mechanism / loop that affected the material on the mini trampolines and hence the effectiveness of microphony supression on the speaker cables.

I asked how this was achieved but they pointed out it was experimental and confidential. Were microphones used, I asked. I received a warm polite smile, and no more on that topic.

It was one of the most convincing demonstrations I have yet encountered and yet one of the most frustrating inasmuch as I could not for certain determine if … and as odd though this may seem … I preferred the sound with micorophony or not.

As far as I know, this research only formed the basis of an academic paper as the invention was never brought to market. Thank you.

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