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Learn about interconnect cables. ClearCables sells quality speaker cables, component video cables, s-video cables, audio interconnect cables, composite video cables, Toslink optical cables, subwoofer cables, and digital coax cables.
We are dedicated to providing premium audio products at reasonable prices.
ClearCables. The difference is clear...™
About Interconnects: Explain all the differences I read about on various sites!
As you begin to read about cables offered by various companies, you will find the interconnect world is a treacherous place, filled with snake oil salesmen and outlandish claims.
You will also find a complex myriad of theories, personal experiences and testimonies, and "mumbo jumbo" that could leave the cable buyer really confused. Let's start off by addressing reviews and marketing...
Use caution when reading internet reviews!
Many manufacturers, especially e-commerce cable manufacturers, offer a discount for a favorable review from the customer. ClearCables does not do this. We will, of course, contact a customer via e-mail after a purchase to insure their satisfaction, and we will use favorable feedback from time to time to promote our goods and services, but we will not taint the review process by offering monetary incentives. Any praise you read about ClearCables Canare products has not been bought!
Beware of disguised common cable materials!
Canare cable and connectors are some of the best interconnects in the world. That is why we carry the line, and why we are promoting ourselves by fully disclosing what materials we are using. However, as you research other vendors, you will find similarities between our Canare cables and theirs...and there is a good reason why: Some vendors are using Canare cables, covering them with TECHFLEX, and manufacturing them as a different brand for a much higher price. Of course, a purchaser of such a product would still receive the same great Canare performance as they would have had ordering from ClearCables, but they obtained that performance at an increased cost. And they may not have a guarantee like ClearCables: 30 day unconditional money back. One of the most popular vendors of internet retailed cables built their entire market selling covered Canare cables and recently switched to silver coated copper cables - with a price premium to match. Several manufacturers also make professional grade cables for various uses, and these too are often terminated with Canare RCA plugs (shown on the top of this page) and covered with TECHFLEX or a similar material to disguise the true materials being used. We have chosen Canare because we believe the cable is superior to other available brands.
Let's talk tech: Copper and Gold are being joined by Silver and Rhodium...
Copper and gold have long been a staple for all electrical wiring and interconnects, and the reason is simple: Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity, but it tarnishes / oxidizes easily. Gold is expensive, but highly resistant to corrosion. Thus, copper and silver have been mated for years for electrical uses. However, there are two materials that are becoming very popular in the interconnect business right now in addition to copper: Rhodium and Silver. Rhodium is a beautiful material, similar in appearance to silver. As an electrical contact material it has a low electrical resistance, a low and stable contact resistance, and it is highly resistant to corrosion. Silver is also a great conductor of electricity. In fact, pure silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, and possesses the lowest contact resistance. It is stable in pure air and water, but tarnishes when exposed to ozone, hydrogen sulfide, or air containing sulfur.
Because Rhodium is so resistant to corrosion, it is perfect for speaker spade terminals as well as banana plugs, and anywhere exposed metal can interact with the air. Gold is also used to prevent corrosion. All our Canare RCA plugs have gold plated connectors for just this reason, and our new speaker wire spade terminals and banana plugs feature rhodium over silver plating.
Because silver is a better conductor vs. copper, it is being used for interconnects in two main ways: Pure silver interconnects are being manufactured, including speaker wire, RCA and BNC type audio cables, and video cables. Of course, due to the pure silver construction, the cost of these products are much higher than copper products. Because of this, another trend has started: Silver coated copper. This is especially popular with coaxial cable. Often, the center conductor will be coated with 99.999% pure silver. The braided shield may or may not be silver coated. Along with the silver coating of these cables comes an increase in price, and an even greater increase in claims made by the manufacturer! Let's talk about silver for a moment. There are some controversial theories you may read about, and we will present them for educational and discussion purposes, and present our beliefs on each one.
Pure silver interconnects:
Pure Silver Audio Cables:
-The sound of silver...Many people believe that silver lends a harsh, brash, or bright sound when used for audio. Others believe that silver is smooth, revealing, and lends a crystal clear sound to music. At ClearCables, we have listened to many brands of interconnects made of various materials, and we can honestly say that we do not hear a difference in cables made with silver that makes us like them better than the pure copper which is used in Canare interconnects. However, sometimes, we have found they do sound worse than copper. There is a danger when using a pure silver speaker wire in that the manufacturer or buyer, due to the cost of the pure silver, may have chosen a gauge of wire that is insufficient to power the speaker, especially during deep bass response. If the gauge is sufficient, silver cables can sound great, provided they are not picking up any electromagnetic interference. Silver speaker cables are almost always unshielded, and they employ various braiding geometries to attempt noise cancellation. We have already discussed the fact that silver is a better conductor of electricity than copper. However, if we go back to basic electrical principles, we can overcome copper's conductivity deficiency vs. silver simply by increasing the gauge of the conductors. That is exactly what Canare has done, and it sounds great. In summary, we do like the sound of pure silver interconnects, both line level signal as well as speaker wires when they are built correctly, but we do not hear a difference that is better than our Canare copper wires. And when we factor in cost, copper is the hands down winner. In the end, be it a speaker wire or an interconnect, only you, the listener, can truly judge what sounds best to you. That is why we offer an unconditional 30 day money back guarantee. Give our cables a listen, and be your own judge!
Pure Silver Video Cables:
-The look of silver in video cables...Some people believe that colors are more true and "vivid" with less distortion. We have yet to find a video interconnect made of any material that looks better to us than our Canare LV-77S pure stranded copper video cables. We are confident you will agree.
Silver coated copper interconnects, both for audio and video:
Silver coated copper interconnects have added greatly to the marketing hype in the interconnect world. They are cheaper to manufacture vs. pure silver interconnects, since they contain a very small quantity of silver. The majority of these interconnects are coaxial cable, and the center conductor is coated with 99.999% pure silver (the manufacturer may add additional nines in the purity claim for marketing hype). The copper shield in the coaxial may or may not be coated with silver. The theory behind this design is has two main promotional points: One, since silver is a better conductor than copper, the claim is made that the audio or video quality is greatly improved due to silvers superior electrical conductivity vs. copper. Keep in mind when you read about this that copper's deficiency in conductivity vs. silver is easily overcome in an electrical circuit simply by increasing its gauge. Two, the claim is made that the silver improves the cable due to "skin effect" which is discussed below. We dispute this claim at ClearCables.
Electrical considerations you may read about while shopping for interconnects:
"Skin Effect" - In layman's terms, this is the tendency of electrons to travel on the surface of a conductor. This is a consideration when dealing with Radio Frequency Power and Transmission Lines. This is a frequency dependent phenomenon, and we at ClearCables do not believe it affects audio interconnect cables for two reasons: 1. The frequencies of audible music are between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz (20 KHz). A hertz is one cycle per second. Research has shown that skin effect is negligible at these frequencies. It has been shown that skin effect becomes a consideration at frequencies near 100 KHz - five times beyond the range of human hearing. 2. We cannot, in our testing at ClearCables, hear a difference between silver coated vs. non silver coated conductors (of the same gauge) in our research! In video, we have yet to observe a visual difference in a silver coated interconnect that is superior to a copper conductor of the same gauge. The marketing claim that you may read using "skin effect" will be that a silver coated wire will sound much better than pure copper wire because the electrons in the conductor are traveling on the "99.999% pure silver surface" of the wire.
Solid core vs. stranded wire:
In the solid core vs. stranded core argument, you may read or hear about a phenomenon known as "strand jumping"...
"Strand jumping" is when electrons in a stranded round conductor are traveling in one single strand of the conductor wire, and then they "jump" from one wire to the other in the strand due to a difference in electrical potential. This is a consideration when using extremely high voltage line, such as with a high power electric generator, where arcing could occur. However, its effect is negligible at the voltages used in audio/visual applications. The voltage in a typical home audio line level interconnect varies between .3 volts and 2 volts; in the car audio environment, when using professional line drivers (such as the Phoenix Gold TBAT / TBA1 or AudioControl Overdrive) the voltage is around 9-13 volts. Professional grade home audio gear can approach the same "high" voltage levels of the car environment - around 13 volts again with a line driver. Today's "high voltage" car head units only put out between 4 and 9 volts, depending on the model. The marketing claim made by some companies concerning "strand jumping" is that their solid core line level coax or speaker wire is better because it does not have strands, and therefore it is not subject to "strand jumping". Solid core wire does have an advantage over stranded wire at extremely high frequencies (beyond the range of human hearing, once again) - when skin effect really does matter - in that stranded wires increase the "skin surface roughness", therefore increasing the series resistance of the wire. However, at the signal levels we are using in audio applications, as we have already discussed, we are not affected by skin effect in any audible way. Stranded wire, however, is much more flexible than solid core wire, and is more durable over time.
Also, in support of our arguments considering both skin effect and strand jumping in a stranded wire, consider microphone cables: In a microphone cable, we take a potentially extremely low level signal and run it through a long, thin, flexible cable in the vicinity of power carrying lines and other signal cables. Microphone cables typically have just two conductors and a shield. The best microphone cables in the world have four conductors and a shield. (A four conductor microphone cable can offer 10-20 dB of noise rejection vs. a two conductor cable). The conductors are made of pure stranded copper! Notice we didn't say solid core nor silver coated copper! If skin effect and strand jumping were a factor, it would really show in a microphone cable, and they would all have to be made of solid core pure silver or silver coated copper. Obviously, this is not the case.
For more information on skin effect and strand jumping, we recommend the book High-Speed Signal Propagation: Advanced Black Magic by Dr. Howard Johnson, available at Barnes and Noble.
We also recommend the following links to further educate you about cables. A very special thanks to Mr. Gene DellaSala at Audioholics for allowing us to link to his cable information database.
Learn about Audio Principles here.
Learn about Cable buying and avoiding "Snake Oil" here.
The professionals know what they are doing!
If you were to go to a studio and talk to a recording engineer to find out what products they use, you would find an abundance of Canare pure copper cables in use. These products have been chosen because they sound great, look good, and have been designed with solid science, not techno babble and hype that is unsubstantiated and cannot be backed up by science. You would not find pure silver interconnects, and you would not find silver coated copper. The reason is simple: No substantial performance gain is realized, but a significant increase in materials cost is!
ClearCables desires to bring you the best quality products at fair prices. Canare offers the best high performance cabling value we have found thus far. We have selected Canare's four conductor, stranded pure copper, 22 gauge, L-4E6S microphone/line cable for use in our balanced/twisted analog interconnects and subwoofer cables. For our coaxial needs, we have selected Canare's very best crimp termination stranded, pure copper coaxial cable, Model LV-77S.
We will continue to study emerging industry trends, giving each of them a careful "look and listen", and when we find products that we feel are a great value with a good performance gain, we will make them available to you here at ClearCables!
While you shop our competitors, watch out for snake oil and magical performance claims. When you have had enough nonsense, come on back to ClearCables for the best value in professional grade interconnects at a reasonable price.
ClearCables. The difference is clear...™
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