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  • Cat6 as Speaker Wire

    Wondering if anyone else has tried using multiple strands of Cat 6 internet wire for speaker cable. I bought a roll of 1000' ($5) at a yard sale years ago, and on a lark made up some 8' and12' cables with 8 paralleled runs per cable--which gave 64 TwentyFour gage wires in each run, or about the equivalent of 11-12 gauge. The results were so impressive that I replaced all my other cables. Tony Glynn founder of Lowther America (now retired) use to swear by this technique.

    To be fair, I use tube amplifiers (that I design) and high efficiency speakers so I'm not driving a lot of current compared to the 400W+ behemoths required for low-e speakers.

    The point is that Cat 6 wire is incredibly pure and linear in frequency up to the gigahertz range. Makes sense that it could sound very good, and the price is right..

    CoffeeDJ

  • #2
    Did you use cat 6 with or without the shield.

    Did you twist all the strands together.

    Did you make each pair a + & - or both one or the other.

    I never made speaker cable but I did make a 21 foot spdif with cat 7 and it was better than 2 of the $300 to $400 store bought 5 foot spdif I tried.

    I'm gonna go on a limb and say Belden will have better consistency in geometry and metallurgy than Home Depot wire.
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    • CoffeeDJ
      CoffeeDJ commented
      Editing a comment
      I did twist all the strands together, using 4 cables for + and 4 cables for -. Still using it, even though I do have some very, very expensive Jenna Labs cables--which are great, but so is the Cat 6.

  • #3
    The only thing to be aware of is if the wire is solid copper or copper clad (over aluminum). For network applications it doesn't matter much, for higher current speaker applications, it might a tiny. Aluminum has a higher resistance than copper, and most of the audio will be within the core of each conductor.

    The Cat6 isn't "pure and linear" up to gHz (it's actually 250mHz) unless driven from and terminated with it's specified impedance (100 ohms), which you're not doing with an amp and speaker. Even then, Cat6 has very measurable and noticeable loss (part of its specs, actually), which is why there are maximum acceptable run lengths for its intended use in networks (100 meters). What it is, is precision wire with a very precise and even twist per pair, and precision dielectric between pairs. That means over long lengths you can transmit high frequencies with minimal signal reflections. None of that matters for speakers, though, because audio wavelengths are measured in miles (20kHz=approx 9 miles), so speaker cables don't work as transmission lines, and Cat5/6 impedance of 100 ohms doesn't matter.

    If I were going to do this I would not use separate cables for + and - because what you're doing there is increasing the inductive reactance, rather significantly and in a variable, uncontrolled way. Spacing the - and + conductors always increases inductive reactance. The entire point of Cat5/6 is to keep the passives down, so precision twist keeps C and L under control and kept low in every twisted pair, and with respect to other pairs within the cable. But R is higher than you'd want for speakers. So, you use pairs within the cable, and parallel them, then parallel those cable pairs with those within other cables, so everything ends up paired and paralleled. Now you'll have L under control and reduce R, which is what you want for speaker cable. The C component is a non-issue when driving speakers. Yeah, and keep very careful track of which wire of each pair you consider +, or you'll end up with your amp driving a chunk of copper.

    However, as much fun as this is, it doesn't present an advantage over good 12ga stranded wire, unless the run is quite long.

    If you want to try another alternate-use speaker wire solution, get some RG-8 coax. Extremely low L, C, and R, and in a round jacket.

    Of course, all of this assumes you actually want your speakers to be well controlled by your amp! Such may not always be the case, but it is the general goal.

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    • garylkoh
      garylkoh commented
      Editing a comment
      Electrical signal in a conductor travels at almost the speed of light, factored by the dielectric. So, you are both wrong - the wavelength of 20kHz in a copper wire is about 15m.

    • Rust
      Rust commented
      Editing a comment
      Ops, my bad, I was thinking velocity of sound in air at sea level.

      Gary. 15 meters? An excellent VoP would be around 0.74 times the speed of light of 210,000,000 m/s and divide that by the 20,000 Hz would give a wavelength of 7,770 meters or 25482 feet unless I am drastically wrong about the velocity of propagation in a decent conductor (a distinct possibility by the way. Even with a relatively poor VoP of .45 gives a wavelength of 4725 meters, 15,500 feet or 2.9 miles. 21 year old Balvenie may be corrupting my thought process and memory but I really would appreciate it if you could point out where/why that is wrong.

      And apologies to anyone if I've read anything incorrectly.

    • garylkoh
      garylkoh commented
      Editing a comment
      Since we are talking about Cat6 as speaker wire, the velocity factor would be in the range around 80%, not 74%. As VF is the reciprocal of the root of the dielectric constant, cables like Nordost with its air/teflon dielectric would approach 99%.

      Speed of light ~ 300,000,000 m/s if the VF approach 99%, then wavelength is about 15km. My mental calculations was off. Sorry. 15m is for 20MHz,

  • #4
    Keep in mind the pairs are different twist rates, some pairs have twist rate tighter than others. A the freqs audio is not sure it would matter but just in case you didn't notice.
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    • #5
      Well if it sounds good enjoy. I did make interconnects from cat 7 both SE and balanced.if you ask me all interconnects are eq filters of sorts and the results can be measured ahead of time. Now knowing what you need to tine ur setup is where a crystal ball and a clairvoyant is needed.
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      • #6
        I make alot of cables with Mogami 2534 which is 4 wire(they also have 2 wire) has great specs if that's what your into and comes at a great price. Also comes in maybe 10 colors
        I connect copper shielding at source and let it float at cd player or wherever it's going to, and mark with something(sharpie) so you know
        which way it gets installed.
        Amp-McIntosh MC501x2,ATI 2505,ATI 1505,Innersound amp
        Preamp-McIntosh c2200,Marantz AV7005
        Phono Pre-Lehmann Audio Black Cube SE
        Speakers-Innersound Eros w/new panels and woofers,
        Von Schweikert VR4 HSE,Paradigm 80's 60's and CC350
        Crossover-DBX Venu 360
        Analog-VPI Scoutmaster Hana SL,2-Sony APR 5003,Revox B77
        Digital-Sony SCD XA5400ES, JRIVER Media Center
        Wadia DI122 DAC
        Subs-2 Velodyne HGS10's,2 Velodyne 1200's
        Tuner-Revox B760 McIntosh MR74 Sony XDR F1HD
        JVC Projector,Draper electric 92" screen
        Room dedicated 27'x16'x10', Bass traps
        VPI 17 record cleaning machine

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