- Written by Chris Groppi
- Published on 18 February 2008
Whatever the theory predicts or measurements show, the rubber meets the road at the ear (and brain) of the listener. So, the first thing I did was to listen to my audio gear, not measure it, and I will present my subjective reactions to these cables first.
Cables usually offer subtle improvements on the system sound. This was mostly true with the Wireworld cables, except in two specific areas. The first was in overall noise level. With my previous cables (a combination of Nordost and Kimber products) there was a persistent, low-level ground loop hum and hiss. While this was only clearly audible right up at the speakers, that hum and hiss was obviously lowering the signal to noise of the music. After re-cabling with the Wireworld cables, the 60 Hz hum was eliminated. Even with the preamp gain turned way up, there was no audible hum, even with my ear right on the speaker. The hiss (noise from the preamp and amplifier electronics) was still present, but reduced considerably. This alone was a very big improvement in signal to noise. This improved the "blackness" of the audio background considerably, resulting in a far greater ability to hear small details in the music. This improvement helped both for the timbral and spatial presentation of the music. Images were more focused and better separated, while small differences in tonal shading were preserved more accurately. All of this just because noise was reduced.
Another place where cable can have a more significant effect is in bass impact and weight. A woofer can draw very high instantaneous current from an amplifer during a transient (i.e. a bass drum hit). If a speaker cable's resistance is not very low, the cable can cause current limiting that "rounds off" the transient. The Wireworld cable's much larger effective wire gauge and very low resistance as compared to my previous speaker cable resulted in a very noticeable improvement in bass impact and weight. This improvement had the side effect of making the bass seem more extended, although I doubt this was a real frequency response effect.
Improvements in other areas of performance were subtler. Remember, good cable is icing on the cake, and will not make up for poor system performance. The reactance induced by speaker cables changes the frequency response of the speaker they're used with. As the measurements section will show, these cables have almost an order of magnitude less reactance than my usual speaker cable. The much smaller high frequency inductance should result in less roll-off at the top end. I did notice a bit more sparkle up top, and some badly made recordings annoyed me a bit more than usual. With well-done recordings, the high frequency extension was very welcome. If you have a really bright system already, then maybe some cables with more inductance might be better. For systems that are balanced well, these Wireworld cables are just the ticket.
I did not try to isolate which cables made the most improvement, or if the speaker, interconnect or AC cords were specifically responsible for any improvements. Taken as a full system, I could not be happier with these cables. It's not like I had low quality cables before. The MSRP on my normal cables is well over $2000. Substituting these Wireworld cables made a very noticeable improvement that I will be sad to see go. I would love to have them in my system permanently as my reference cables.