Monday, January 26, 2004

Obsessing over audio cables lately. I've gotten heavily into DIY cable mode. I recently resurrected some spools of silver cable I had laying around. I bought this years ago but never did anything with it. After becoming interested in the litz braiding technique popularized by vendors such as Kimber Kable, I decided to make up a test set with this spare silver wire. I wasn't sure what to expect so I cobbled together a twisted pair with some old switchcraft connectors. I was slightly blown away. This inspired me to get serious so I ordered some nice neutrik rca connectors and supplies from Parts Express. I then figured out how to do a proper litz braid with with three conductors (two ground, one hot). I've been refining my design over the last several weeks and now have a design, with a bit of heat shrink for channel identification and strain relief, I am happy with. So far I've testing this on my tube system. I may test on my big rig down the road after I complete some anticipated upgrades.

At the same time, I happened upon another cable DIY site that had a listing for some interesting cables. The parts can be purchased from MCM electronics. I liked the looks and design so I took a chance and ordered a set of parts. Basically, its a classic stranded coaxial design with a heavy shield and teflon insulator.

The recommended connectors are similar in design to those on DH Labs cables. The assembly can me done without soldering or one can solder the signal tip through a opening provided. I am experimenting with both options. I also broke down and bought a roll of silver Wonder Solder. At $28 it's pretty expensive but what the heck. One fly in the ointment is a tolerance issue with the connectors.

I found that that the design causes extremely tight connections that actually don't fit about 75% of all the components I tried to plug them into. I think MCM needs to adjust the tolerances a bit on this one. As a work around, I bought some emery paper and am sanding away a few microns of the inside outer shield which is just enough to allow some expansion of the actual inner rca shield to fit more comfortably. It's tedious to do but seems to solve the problem. Sound wise these cables seem to be competitive.

After continued thought, I have concluded that purchasing the McCormack HT-3 three channel amp is overkill for my home theater rear and center speaker. It costs about $2400. I have revisited the Outlaw Audio products and have settled on buying three of their 200w M-Block amps. I can get three for under $900 and I may also try some of their cables as well. I think this is a good compromise and will not unduly sully the overall sound. I think this makes sense.

Oh boy, I am starting to get net timeouts. Looks like the venerable Comcast network is once again straining under heavy load. Lots of telecommuters today I bet.

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