Portland Audio Club Message Board › Perhaps my grasp of physics is getting rusty, but.....

Perhaps my grasp of physics is getting rusty, but.....

Jim H.
user 70891102
Portland, OR
Post #: 3
Perhaps my grasp of physics is getting rusty, but I saw the following advertised today that just did not seem to make sense:
"You are bidding on a pair of Monster Cable M1 Sonic Reference speaker cables. The M1 was Monster Cable's top of the line, reference speaker cable. It features a patented time alignment construction with separate wire bundles for the bass, mids and treble, so that all the frequencies arrive at the same time, improving imaging and accuracy. Some say it is better than anything Monster makes today and was one of the best cables ever made."

"all the frequencies arrive at the same time"? OK; I understand how that is an issue in air, but through wire? Doesn't physices tell us that all frequencies will travel at the same rate?
Erich B.
user 89396682
Portland, OR
Post #: 3
In general, in most mediums, different frequencies of (sound/eletrical vibrations/whatever) travel at somewhat different velocities, usually in small percentages. It ends up looking something like crossover phase distortion. The longer the signal paths from true source to your speaker, the larger the resultant time effect.

However, having said the above, I think that particular effect is pretty irrelevant, because it is TINY.

-- Approximately 670 Million miles per hour for speed of light (speed of electricity in copper is between 66% and 98% of that depending on the shielding effects).
-- Approximately 760 miles per hour for speed of sound at STP (Standard Temp/Pressure).

So, roughly 500,000 to 1 or so. When plugging this into a comparable situation with, say, multiple drivers in a time-aligned speaker, you'd need *hundreds of meters* (or kilometers) of copper path to be the equivalent of even 0.1 mm of time-misalignment in air, which is already absurdly hard or impossible to get in a real speaker.

Even if this was not snake oil, how are they restricting frequencies down particular cables? Any analog-crossover-style passive filtering would add phase distortion at slightly lower power levels along the other paths, and recombining would smear them... again, if this was enough for the ear to hear it in the first place.

I.e. basically snake oil. If there *is* some benefit to those cables, this is not it.

If you actually care, the best way to get calibrated time/phase-alignment from multiple-driver speakers is either a really good passive crossover design (which makes assumptions about phase distortion earlier in the signal chain) or an active crossover with separate signal paths and some calibration process to measure it.
John S.
user 29699462
Portland, OR
Post #: 2
Jim, I think what you (and Monster) are describing is a variation of a phenomena called time-smear which became a popular term about 11 years ago when some cabling mfg'ers claimed to have discovered and/or found a cure for this phenomena where a signal is sent across an ic consisting of for this example a Litz wire with hundreds of wire strands and the signals don't arrive at their destination at the same exact time.

I just believed them as I've owned plenty of ics and scs where the effects sounded just as the "experts" described, a digital hash-like fatiguing sound particularly in the high-frequencies but also ill-defined bass, etc.. And when I purchased ics and scs that allegedly minimized or cured this "time-smear" the sound was unquestionably more detailed, pristine, and ultimately more naturally musical. So I just took the "experts" word for it and bought into it.

Whatever they discovered was a very discernable musical improvement. Was it really a "time-smear" as they thought? Probably not.

Erich seemed to have done an excellent job explaining logically that to the human ear, time-smear should have little to no audible affect. In fact, not long ago a friend with a physics degree explained to me in a manner very similar to Erich's why time-smear should not be audibly discernable in virtually all practical installations.

One thing I did learn a few years after I realized a significant musical improvement with those new ics and scs in 2002 was that the president of that new cable company told me they cryo-treated all their cabling and did not advertise they were doing that and asked me to keep it under my hat.

Through much personal experience even being able to accurately predict within one hour when musical improvements become noticeable after a certain burn-in time period I'm a huge believer in cryo-treating all plugs, outlets, inlets, ics, scs, fuses, and pcs. So much so that I when I send something out to be cryo-treated I have them double-cryo-treat the cables, which does not double the improvements over a single cryo-treatment but will provide perhaps half of the improvement of the first treatment. For the doubting reader, when I informed a cabling mfg'er that double cryo whenever I can, he tried it and from then on he double-cryo's all of his cabling.

Perhaps early experimentation with cryo-treating cabling erroneously led developers to coin the term "time-smear" when in fact their solution had nothing to do with time-smear which may indeed be an irrelevant subject matter to high-end audio.

Anyway, excellent explanation, Erich.
Jim H.
user 70891102
Portland, OR
Post #: 6
John, thanks for the great explanation! Could you please indulge me, then ,and tell me what you think the basis of the improvement in cryo-treatment is from? Does it better align the grain structure of the component? Or something else? It would be great to hear this from someone other then a Marketing talking head.
John S.
user 29699462
Portland, OR
Post #: 3
Jim, I can only speculate. But performance, regardless of the industry, most always has much to do with improved efficiency of operation, eg improved trueness, minimized friction, resistance, etc.

Electricity itself may not be mechanical, but it is a form of vibration, and in high-end audio we use a mechanical conduit as a means of transferring electrical signals, i.e. cabling. My best guess is the cryo-treatment constricts the wiring to make it more congruent with fewer or smaller fractures, thus lowering an electrical part's resistance.

Should the difference be so minute that when calculated should be inaudible? Perhaps.

That's about as deep as I can speculate. But in a controlled environment, just the addition of one cryo-treated IEC connector after burn-in is a nice and very audible improvement.

I own some phenomenal AC line conditioners. Several years ago I took 3 of these latest version LC's and at the same time I installed cryo-treated plugs, IEC connectors, and fuses. And after the normal burn-in time period I nearly doubled the performance of my already fabulous line conditioners. I've repeated this several times including for local friends who own the same line conditioners.

Now to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, 5 years earlier I've made these same mod's on earlier/older models of the same line conditioners but with only minor audiible differences. The replacement parts were not of the same mfg'er so that may explain the difference in improvements. And now that I think about I suspect the smaller gains years ago probably had to do with inferior Audio grade parts, even though at the time that mfg'er was king of the hill.

Something I like to keep in mind as I seek to minimize my maximums and vice versa. Sometimes even the smallest of bottlenecks is just enough to greatly choke performance. And when that small bottleneck is minimized or eliminated can be just enough to cause performance to soar. Sometimes not. :)

John S.
user 29699462
Portland, OR
Post #: 4
BTW, Jim, with regard to cryo-treating and power cables, I've owned or auditioned power cables retailing for as high as $6500.

I also own a $100 power cable where the mfg'er (now deceased) had cryo-treated his preferred cabling and terminated it with inexpensive Furutech plug and IEC connector and this cable seems to be every bit as musical as the $6500 pc I borrowed for a show or my own $2400 pc.

The name of the deceased mfg'er's company was cryo-parts.com and Furutech cryo-treats every electrical part, cabling, and line conditioner they manufacture. Which are many.

In other words, I'm not entirely alone in my thinking.

I should also note that like most anything, apparently not all cryo-treatment companies are created equal or use the same superior processes. There supposedly is a right and wrong process and a wrong process can offer no improvements or even damage the product.

I've even heard of a few people who've had their entire line conditioner, amplifier, etc. cryo-treated with much success. I'd be nervous to have that done but I wish all of my gear were fully cryo-treated.

Maybe someday that will become the standard.
John S.
user 29699462
Portland, OR
Post #: 5
Jim, I was thinking of our correspondence above as I was sending an inquiry to jena labs in Portland who specializes in certain high-end audio products and perform the cryo-treatment process, perhaps better than some of the others.

Jena Labs has a page where they discuss their cryo-treating process and below is just a little snippet.


"What happens? Exposing metallic objects to this extreme cold causes beneficial molecular changes to occur. As metallic objects cool, they shrink. With the extreme cooling and the shrinkage that follows LN² immersion, the crystal boundaries of metallic conductors align more closely with one another and become more conductive and quieter. Mechanical integrity is also improved. This improved molecular condition stays intact through the slow warming process and is stable at room temperature."

My first experience with cryo-treatment, a 20-amp hubble IEC conntector, came from them about 12 years ago. I was such a believer in cryo-treatment that the product sat in my tool chest for over 2 years before I even tried it by replacing it with an identical hubble 20amp IEC connector (non-cryo'ed). After several days of burn in, it was a very audible improvement from just that one mod.

Anyway, I just sent them an inquiry about prices for having some cabling cryo'ed and that reminded me of this conversation.
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