ONLINE - ISSUE 31
We sent out the same 20 questions to 50 manufacturers, the following are their responses. The intent of the survey is to address basic questions as to design along with any questions raging on various sites, while minimizing potential chest-thumping and friendly, or unfriendly, bashing of others....
Olu Sonuga of Dynamic Design
PFO Why do cables make a difference?
Olu Sonuga Contrary to popular notion, a cable is not an accessory. Cables are not used "mainly for convenience, attractiveness, or safety"; they are a critical part of the recording and reproduction process. Cables are exactly like the tires on cars, even the best designed components are rendered mute without them. As with tires, cable design today is varied with wide ranging performance goals on the part of the designers. Some are designed with value and cost in mind while some are designed for ultimate performance without regard for cost. The cable design process is very complex and research intensive as designers sift through a multitude of ideologies and materials to develop their products. Their choices ultimately determine how their cables interact with other components in a given system.
PFO What about the conductor's composition? Copper/silver/gold/palladium/other? What about blends and alloys.
OS Conductor material is overrated in high end cable design; any design that hinges the performance of the cable on the choice of conductor material is flawed. Flawed because a lot of the conductors available are considered to be excellent conductors of electricity including Copper, Silver, Gold, Aluminum, and alloys. All perform adequately when propagating electrical signals with differences arising only in terms tonal attributes. There are other equally important parts to the design of a high performance cable.
PFO What effect do dielectrics contribute? Teflon versus what else?
OS Choice of dielectrics is a critical design consideration because no matter what conductor material is being used the dielectrics ultimately modulate the propagation of the signal. Different dielectrics affect a signal differently, some propagate the signal faster and distort the signal less than some that have slower propagation rates and smear the transmitted signal. The irony about dielectrics is that, at times, the lossiest ones produce distortions that are very enjoyable to listen to. Cutting edge dielectric design and implementation costs are prohibitive and represent a major part of our product design cost at Dynamic Design.
PFO What about using no dielectric?
OS We do not believe that the performance gains, if any, outweigh the mechanical integrity compromise.
PFO What do the measurements tell us? What do they not tell us?
OS Electrical measurements in cables give us a guideline of how a cable will affect the performance a specific component in terms of its input or output impedance. This is generally where the term "voicing" with cables originate. There are some useful measurements like capacitance, inductance, resistance, amperage, shield effectiveness, signal attenuation, and propagation velocity that can help in choosing the right cable for a specific application.
PFO What about connectors? How important are they?
OS Going back to the car analogy used above, connectors are like the tires on a race car, they are the sole contact with the component's input and output connectors. So the performance of the cable depends on the ability of the connector to relay to and from the connected components, the transmitted signal intact. Any distortion present in the connector compromises the performance of the cable. Connector technology is currently lagging behind cable design but there have been some major innovations and developments recently that continue to improve the performance of audio connectors.
PFO Why or why not use shielding?
OS As more and more wide-bandwidth components are surfacing, shielding is becoming essential for those components to achieve their target performance. Noise increases as frequency rises, so most of the high frequency information is masked by noise. Properly designed shielding reduces this noise and increase the amount of information that is transmitted and received in the recording and reproduction process. Shields also reduce cross talk between adjacent conductors and the radiation of noise to other cables and components. A well designed full bandwidth emi/rfi shield is very difficult and expensive to design and implement. Dynamic Design has expended extensive resources in the design of our multi-layer wide-bandwidth shields.
PFO What about run-in? Why is/isn't it important? What are the factors for either response?
OS The forming of the dielectric and subsequent reduction in air gaps over time enhances the performance of the cable. This results in a more uniform impedance measurement across the length of the cable.
PFO What about cable lengths? Why are/aren't they important?
OS Cable lengths are important in the performance of all cables especially high current cables where performance is, somewhat, compromised by longer lengths. For interconnects, the use of high propagation insulators and wide bandwidth shields help mitigate the effect of signal loss in longer lengths.
PFO What is directionality?
OS At Dynamic Design, our cables are directional based on the shield grounding scheme. All other indications of direction are either dictated by the connectors or to assist the customer establish a reference for run-in direction.
PFO How did you get into the cable field?
OS The search for better system performance led me to where I am today. I strongly believe that high end components and speakers have attained a high level of performance regardless of price. This level of performance calls for optimization rather than upgrading components in one's system. It makes more sense to me to get the most out of my current system through optimization before I decide to upgrade.
PFO What is your fundamental design philosophy or goal?
OS Our design objective is to design cables that offer low distortion performance by using innovative processes and materials.
PFO How did you arrive at that philosophy or derive those goals?
OS Since the high end is primarily concerned about the reproduction of recorded music, it is imperative that every high end system must reproduce recorded material faithfully. Products that append to the recorded content are flawed, no matter how pleasing the additions (colorations) are.
PFO How successful do you feel you have been at achieving your design objectives?
OS We are extremely pleased that we've been able to design the most advanced products available. Every Dynamic Design product is built to offer wide bandwidth performance and to relay to the consumer the true intent of the recording artist in the context of their systems.
PFO How do you plan to push beyond what you have already accomplished?
OS We continually strive to improve the performance of our products by developing even more advanced materials and processes.
PFO Where are we heading?
OS I think it is imperative that the high end community embrace and do their share to help save our planet by producing more efficient and alternative products that use less of our dwindling resources. At Dynamic Design we have instituted a no paper policy, wherever we can, by utilizing electronic product brochures, and correspondence. We know this is not enough, so we continue to look for ways to do more.
PFO Who are others that you admire (you are NOT restricted to other cable manufacturers)?
OS I admire all people that give selflessly of themselves so others can experience hope in their daily lives.