Understanding High-End cables

If you’ve gone to the effort of auditioning and purchasing high-quality Audion equipment, it would be a foolish act to cable the system with cheap interconnects and power cords. The extra detail, emotion and musical involvement you’ve just paid to enjoy can often be lost with a poor cable.

There are two key areas in cable design: conductor and dielectric. The conductor carries the audio signal and is therefore a critical factor for good performance. The conductor material is obviously important but so also is the purity of that material. Copper and Silver are by far the most popular, but it is also important to be aware of the quality. The dielectric is the material that is used to insulate the conductors. It is important to use high-quality materials because of the complex negative effects that inferior dielectric can have on the signal. Good dielectric possesses low dielectric constance. Non-conductive materials which do not retain an electrical charge are better dielectric and have less detrimental effect on the transmitted signal.

Naturally better conductors and dielectric cost more than standard copper/silver or rubber (poor dielectric). This has a knock-on effect to basic cable costs, but these increases are more than justified when you compare the increases in audio performance and musical enjoyment.

“Why Isn’t Regular Copper Good?”

To obtain the best from your audio system we should avoid putting barriers in the way of the signal. In its basic form (TPC) copper contains many impurities with small crystals. Small crystals make it hard for fragile audio signals to pass because of the inclusion of hydrogen and oxygen that typically surround each grain. Imagine trying to cross a river on small stepping stones. It would be much easier if there were a bridge. Purer copper, for example OFC, PC-OFC, PCOCC with larger crystals reduces distortions which are commonly described as ‘harshness’.