My friend, mentor, and former editor Brent Butterworth has taken over as the Stereo Guide for About.com, and he hasn’t wasted much time in applying his clear, concise, scientific approach to controversial topics. In his latest piece, Brent broaches the subject of speaker cables, and whether or not one can actually measure the differences between speaker cables in a controlled, concise, repeatable way.
First, a disclaimer: I don’t have a strong opinion about speaker cables. I’ve done blind tests for Home Theater magazine in which panelists developed consistent preferences for certain cables over others. Yet I rarely concern myself with it.
I’ve felt dismayed by both sides of the argument: the belligerent insistence in some audio publications (notably Stereo Review, which has now morphed into Sound & Vision, and the barely alive The Audio Critic) that speaker cables make no difference, and on the other side, some high-end audio reviewers’ long-winded, elaborate, effusive descriptions of the differences in the “sound” of speaker cables. It seems to me that both sides are defending entrenched positions rather than engaging in an honest, open-minded effort to seek the truth.
With no real horse in this race, Brent goes on to detail his measurements of three different speaker cables — two 12-gauge offerings and one cheap 24AWG cable — and also provide some valuable insight into what those measurements mean, if anything.