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Top Ten Signs an Audio Cable Vendor is Selling You Snake Oil

by August 29, 2004

The audio industry is full of hype with the most nonsense surrounding the simplest component of the A/V chain - interconnects and speaker cables.  Because there are often very little measurable and audible differences between cables, many of the exotic cable vendors use psuedo junk science to differentiate their products from their competitors. These vendors often prey upon the suggestible audiophile giving them reasons why these products must be utilized in their precious systems in order to achieve the best performance possible to reach the true path of audio nirvana.  Listed below are the top 10 cable snake oil claims to watch out for.  If a vendor is selling you on any of these fallacies, run don't walk away from their products, unless of course you enjoy a good sci-fi story and desire to buy expensive audio jewelery.   

Watch out if a Cable Vendor or Manufacturer:

  1. Promotes that their product allegedly eliminates audio related Skin Effect and/or "Strand Jumping" problems.
  2. Claims revolutionary breakthrough in cable technology by polarizing or biasing the dielectric using a battery.
  3. Promotes that their products eliminate "Audiogenic", "Diode Rectification" or any type of non linear distortions. See Debunking the Myth of Cable Distortion and Dielectric Biasing
  4. Physically places (+) and (-) wire leads in separate dielectrics not closely spaced in a common jacket. See: Calculating Cable Inductance of Twin Feeder Cables
  5. Claims vast improvements in sound by inserting "Cable Elevators" to raise the cables off the floor and minimize electron misfiring or static energy fields.
  6. Claims that cryogenically freezing cables improves fidelity or measurably changes electrical properties after the cable is restored to room temperature.
  7. Claims that their cables require a "Break In" period.
  8. Claims that measurements cannot quantify why their designs are superior and often misapply engineering principles in their reasoning but abandon the associated governing laws and metrics that establish them.
  9. Claims audible differences exist between stranded and non-stranded wires of same gauge rating, geometry and conductor spacing.
  10. Claims audible differences between silver and copper cables of equal design geometry and gauge.

Bonus Scams

  • Sells speaker cables or interconnects costing more than a plasma TV or a lease on a new Infinity G35 sports coupe.
  • Claims wire is directional.
  • Slaps  RLC boxes on their cables.
  • Claims of Speaker Cable Resonance at Audio Frequencies

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Here is an example of the dielectric biasing scheme courtesy of Audioquest. The battery does not make a complete electrical connection. Thus it is considered an open circuit.

 

Updated with Audioquest Response: 10/19/2003

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About the author:

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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