I recently had an excellent question from a customer in regards to cable directionality. Andrew started off his email with his requirements for some cable and mentioned he appreciated our honesty (which we do pride ourselves on!). He then when on to ask a question about directionality. I was happy to link him to an article and provide our opinion on it.
I put a fair bit of time into my reply, touched on a few different things and thought to myself "I wish more people asked these sorts of things so I could share our opinion on it". So I am doing exactly that! Below is Andrew's email:
"Dear NB Speaker Cables
I've recently moved here from the UK and now need to get some longer speaker cables for my stereo system, two 8m lengths of 12AWG or better and terminated with good quality banana plugs. After all the ridiculous industry nonsense and snake oil claims back in the UK, it's very refreshing to read your honest and straightforward remarks - thank you, really appreciated! (It's actually quite difficult to ignore all the audio magazines and a dealer you've known for years who earnestly tell you that small bits of special wood on the floor under speaker cables are nowadays essential, or that more expensive power leads really do make a difference.)
However, I'd like to ask where you stand on 'directionality' of speaker cables? By all accounts this seems to be a genuine phenomenon where the properties of copper wire are affected when it is extruded during the manufacturing process. However, whether this makes any difference to the audio signal is another matter and up for debate. Does your cable have the manufacturer's lettering printed on the side, suggesting that they at least are acknowledging that the wire is directional, so that I can install the cables with the signal following the lettering ie from the amp to the speakers? Or is this something else I can quietly forget about?
Followed by our response:
Thanks for the email and the kind words! There certainly is a lot of claims being thrown around in the industry and we do our best to keep things simple and informative. The issue we run into is most companies/businesses pushing these claims have a 'finger in the pie'. It's in their own best interests to lie/manipulate the truth for profit. The hard part is proving them wrong. Even if there is a plethora of evidence (and there is) pointing to a lot of these claims being bullsh*t, the simple answer given is "oh, you just have untrained ears or cheap equipment" or "the difference is there, trust me, I can hear it". There's no real way to disprove what someone else claims they hear!
I'm a pretty black and white sort of guy. 40+ years of testing and strong evidence points to "Resistance is king. Low resistance = better quality" so we've built our offering around that while trying to keep it as Aussie made as possible and having a few nicer looking versions because looks can improve an experience too. Sure, our Vigilante cable sounds the same as our Naked Supehero, but as silly as it sounds, audio is sometimes about more than what we hear. It's about enjoying an experience. For me that's sitting in a dim lit room with a glass of port. For others some it's about beautiful looking speakers hooked up to a retro turntable. For other's it's knowing the cable that connects all the components isn't just low resistance cable, but it looks cool!
As for directionality, what it comes down to, for us, is proof. There is no proof or reliable scientific evidence which suggests directionality plays any role in audio quality. It's easy to use buzzwords and make claims without any real backing and say "The difference is there, trust me, I can hear it". Watch this, we can do it too!...
"Here at NB Speaker Cables, we use black sleeve and insulation. The reason we use black sleeve and insulation is it is a better conductor of heat. Heat can increase the speed of electrons in a cable, reducing resistance and improving sound quality. We can hear the difference and I am sure you can too".
Zero evidence, just buzzwords and pseudo-science. Tell this to enough people and have dealers push it, people will start believing it. On top of that, it only takes a few people to fall for these myths, promote them and then try and make others feel silly for not doing the same and here we are 40 years later with all these myths!
Directionality is touched on here a little. Most of the calculations and formulas are above my pay grade but the message is the same, low resistance is king!
The first line of the conclusion sums it up very well:
"Cables are simply electrical wave guides to transmit signal between audio components. While cables do possess electrical properties that interact within a circuit, those properties are generally insignificant to those of other system components when properly designed. A properly designed cable should cause minimal signal loss and have no effect on the balance of frequency content in the signal, which simply means a flat frequency response."
Audioholics have done multiple videos and articles on this sort of stuff. I remember reading a reply from an electrical engineer which basically said "We have known all this for the better part of 40 years. Why do these myths still exist?!". The simple answer, is to sell and make a profit. Boring old copper in a nice looking sleeve can't be sold for thousands of dollars! (Most) manufacturers need something new to sell. Our understanding of speakers and cabling was pretty damn comprehensive 30 years ago and nothing has changed. Equipment is getting more accurate and it's telling us the same stuff equipment told us years ago.
I do love a good ramble but as you can see I'm pretty passionate about all this! I hope it has been somewhat educational lol.
But to answer your main question simply... Nope, our cables do not indicate directionality because they have no reason to!
I'll be here if you have any other questions!
Founder & Chief Cable Techy"
I felt our reply summed up our feelings on the industry and our approach to our cables. We're not perfect and don't claim to be. What we do claim and believe we deliver on, is what we summarise as our mission...
"Our mission is in our name, ‘No Bullsh*t Speaker Cables’. We want to provide good quality, ‘Aussie as possible’ cables without the hefty price tag.
We don’t claim to have the ‘best’ cables or claim the title of ‘Audiophile Grade’. We simply provide Australian Made cable paired good quality plugs all at a reasonable price.
It’s as simple as that."