The Art & Science of Audio & Video



So often in today’s market we see myths or trends develop that actually are rooted in truth. Sometimes the truth gets skewed ever so slightly and I truly believe that the majority of the time it is done unintentionally. I’ll attempt to explain what I mean here. A lot of times a statement is made that is based on factual information founded in the laws of physics or principles of electricity so on and so forth. However when a statement as such is made without adequate explanation as to its’ basis it is often times misconstrued and people naturally will formulate their own explanation.

Here in lies the problem, now we have one person’s explanation for a given statement that now is not founded in the factual truth. This person could be a salesperson, columnist or someone in marketing. Here’s a good example. For years we’ve all been taught that you want big speaker wire, usually the bigger the better. Now go into your local audio electronics store, consumer or commercial it makes no difference and ask the salesperson for an explanation as to why you would want such big speaker wire. More than likely you’ll get a variety of answer that range from “bigger wire sounds better”, “larger wire has better frequency response”, “you’ll get better low frequency performance” and if you’re lucky you may even get the correct answer which can’t be expressed in a single sentence. The true reason would involve a lengthy dissertation on skin effect and it’s relation to capacitance along with damping factor and so on. All of which is firmly grounded in mathematics and physics. Only one of the answers above even comes remotely close to addressing the real reason you would desire large gauge speaker wire. You can get better low frequency performance with bigger wire, but you notice they never explain why that is.

The wire itself does not directly affect the frequency response in any way. Larger wire is capable of passing more current than a smaller gauge wire. It takes significantly more current output from an amplifier to provide satisfactory control of the larger low frequency drivers. There is an additional factor that plays into this called “damping factor”, which we may discuss in another blog but quite honestly topics this advanced are better left to the big dogs. Grab a book from Don Davis or attend a Syn-Aud-Con class and you’ll be much better off. On the flip side if the wire is too big the inductance of the wire becomes an issue and we start to experience a scenario referred to as “skin effect”, whereas the inductance towards the center of the conductor increases at high frequencies. It’s seldom that this becomes an issue for audio because the “high” frequencies that are most effected are typically well above 20k far beyond adult hearing range and certainly outside the parameters for which your sound system should be configured for. So you see this is a simple principle of electricity as opposed to some magical phenomenon of “big” speaker wires.

Remember if you are one of the fortunate ones to understand this and other technologies as well it is not our place to snivel at those that don’t. Even though it can be rather humorous at times. I once had a technician from my CATV provider tell me my cable modem had RF build up! So I grabbed my Blonder Tongue reference manual off the bookcase and asked him if he could show me where they cover that topic in the book. You are a much more intelligent person when you can comfortably admit to not knowing something, because more than likely someone will then explain it to you. If you are the one that posses the knowledge and understanding then you should always be willing to share it with others. Syn-Aud-Con teaches all of their students a little saying or a philosophy if you will that I have always found ingenious.

I met a person with a dollar
We exchanged dollars
We each had a dollar

I met a person with an idea
We exchanged ideas
Now we each have two ideas

(Courtesy of Syn-Aud-Con)

Another HUGE misconception in the marketplace is the “magical” gold connectors. I address this in another blog to the dismay of many retailers I’m sure!

by Jason Levert


March 18, 2008 - Posted by | Class: E=MC2(+/-3db) | , , , , , , , ,

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