Written by 5:28 am Cables

To Air is Divine

Roger Skoff tells how to improve your System’s sound cheap or free

Lifting your speaker or other cables off the floor can definitely help make your system sound better, regardless of which cables, electronics, or speakers you use.
AR-aliftm io2lswlop;aaa.jpgYou can do it cheaply and easily by making your own cable lifters out of the clear 16 ounce (or larger) plastic cups that can be found at most grocery or discount stores in packs of eight or more for as little as 99 cents.

Just use an ordinary soldering iron to melt holes on both sides of the cup near the bottom, and you’ll have a custom, hand-made cable lifter that works as well or better than any commercial product. (It’s safe and easy, but be sure to wipe any leftover melted plastic off your iron while it’s still hot or it can harden in place and be a mess later)

When you’re done, thread your cable through the holes (For speaker cables, ONE channel, only, per lifter.  Be sure you make the holes BIG enough) and set your new cable lifters mouth-down on the floor, as shown. This will keep your cables suspended in a near-perfect air dielectric, for an audible sonic improvement!  The total number of lifters you’ll need to keep your cables suspended will depend on how stiff your cables are and how long your runs are (left and right channel), but you probably won’t need more than one cable lifter for every two or three feet of cable.

If the idea of using plastic cups to lift your cables strikes you as a little too utilitarian to be in keeping with all that money you spent on the rest of your system, or if you simply don’t like the looks of them, there are any number of other things that you already have around the house that you can use instead: Ordinary coffee mugs or drinking glasses, for example, will work just fine. So will the small terra cotta plant pots you can get at any nursery. Just NEVER use anything made of metal and, for the best performance, if you can’t make holes for passing the cable through in whatever you decide to use for your lifters, as you would with the recommended plastic cups, just use your glasses or mugs or pots RIGHT SIDE UP (as opposed to mouth-down for the plastic cups). That will mean that, just as it would with the plastic cups, the cable will only be in contact with the lifters at two tiny points on their circumference, instead of being in full contact with the lifters’ bottom as it would if the non-plastic-cup lifters were used mouth side down. For better aesthetics, any of the things mentioned here can be made a lot more “professional” looking with a quick spray paint job. For that, I particularly like flat black, or even dark grey “hot rod” primer, but any other color that pleases you will work just fine.

AR-ift2a.jpgAs I wrote in my just-concluded two-part series “Cable Lifters Redux”, the reason that these (or anything else that will get your [speaker] cables off, and a reasonable distance above, the floor) work is that, when it’s carrying signal, every cable is surrounded by both an electromagnetic and an electrostatic field and the interactions of those fields are contributors to the performance of the cable. As you know, fields have no dimensions, but only a point of origin from which they extend infinitely, diminishing infinitely in accordance with the “inverse square rule”. What this means, overall, is TWO things: first that EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS WITHIN THE FIELD OF EVERY CABLE, and second, that EVERY TIME THE DISTANCE FROM THE ORIGIN IS DOUBLED, THE STRENGTH OF THE FIELD IS QUARTERED, and what it means to your speaker cables, in particular, is this: Your floor or your carpet is within the fields surrounding your speaker cables, so they are affected by and become a part of those cables’ dielectric. Flooring or carpet is not nearly as good a dielectric material as air, so lifting your cables off the floor adds air as the part of the dielectric closest to the cables, and therefore, the part having the most effect on their performance. Voila! Instantly better cables!

Try it; you’ll like it!

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