Cable FAQ – NB Speaker Cables


Cable FAQ

Are your speaker cables ‘Audiophile’ Grade?

While science would strongly argue ‘Yes’, I have no doubt some would disagree. These cables are exactly what our name implies and that means ‘no bullsh*t’. They will have no discernible difference audibly to cables worth $1,000s+ for just about every person that buys them. However, if you’re someone who claims to be able to hear the grass grow, you may be disappointed, whether there is an actual audible difference or not.

For those that think they can tell the difference, there's plenty of unicorn tail woven speaker cables sprinkled with the ground up ear lobes of the late original founder of Dolby for your strict 'Audiophile' needs.

What are you cables made from?

The 'driving force' behind any speaker cable is the wire. After all, it is what carries the power to your speakers from your amplifier/AVR. We use OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) in all our cables which is manufactured right here in Australia. We use Copper as it's resistance is extremely low and comparatively, it's cheap and efficient as speaker cable.

There are those that claim different materials can contribute to how a cable sounds ie brighter or warmer. This has yet to be proven in any way. There have been many blind and ABX tests done over the 40+ years which suggest no difference/benefits whatsoever.

What has been shown, is that how a cable looks can influence how people perceive that same cable sounds. In tests done where the listener knows 'which cable is which' (ie a fancy expensive cable vs cheap lamp cord), people claim they prefer the expensive cable (whether there is an audible difference or not). We understand that and don't dispute it. It is why we offer The Superhero and Villain cables which look 'cooler' than our Naked versions. If a nicer look cable heightens your audio experience, we want (and do) provide a cable for that.

If you're in the camp that believes all the fancy materials, wire, insulation and burn in times etc make a better cable, then by all means purchase from our competitors. It's your money and your decision. We're not here to sell cables that have no scientific backing on being superior. We only want to offer what science can and has proven and that's low resistance = quality.

Where are your materials made and sourced?

The speaker wires we use are manufactured in Australia by Tycab and Bambach and purchased from local electrical wholesalers. Our banana plugs are sourced locally by Australian owned and run businesses.

As of April 2020, we now offer plugs manufactured by Krix.

We do use various heatshrinks purchased from a local retailers. While some of these are not Australian made, they are RoHS certified (free from hazardous substances).

Are your speaker cables CL2/CL3 rated (aka certified for in wall/ceiling use)?

CL2 and CL3 are actually International (mainly American/Canadian) fire ratings for cables. In Australia we have AS/NZS 3808 which is very similar and covers off appropriate materials/construction of cable to meet Australian code. That being said, it’s not quite as ‘measured’ as CL2/CL3 ratings so it’s hard to compare.

However, our cables meet Australian code and are deemed fit for in wall use. As it is, speaker cables have an extremely low (nearly nil) risk of causing a fire.

Also, speaker cables do not need to be installed/signed off by a licensed electrician so anyone can install them.

Where are your cables made?

Every cable is hand made in my home workshop by the brothers behind NBSC.

Keep in mind that because of this, each cable may slightly vary in appearance. While the materials are the same and we take every care in making our cables, we aren't robots/machines so there will be slight variations. 

Are your cables sold as 'each' or a 'pair'?

All our cables are sold as "each" (ie 1x cable to power 1x speaker). This allows people to buy an odd number of cables (ie to power their LCR channels) and accommodates those with 'offset' systems where a left and right cable may need to be different lengths. 

Why your cables over other cables?

Part of the reason I started doing this is because it was actually very hard to source short, quality speaker cables for a reasonable price. They either don’t exist or cost hundreds/thousands of dollars (see the ‘About Us’ section for story time).

Our cables are as ‘Aussie Made’ as we can make them and we have no intentions of changing this.

If buying long lengths of speaker cable, there are plenty of options. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to buy from us, be sure to have a good look at the cable you’re buying. Not only are there a lot of ‘fake’ cables out there (CCA claiming to be OFC), but a lot are imported and do not meet the strict certification and standards our Tycab cables do.

When you buy from us, you support a couple Aussie guys in a small town in South Australia who supports local manufacturers (where possible), instead of supporting people overseas or large companies.

Why should I buy from you and not just DIY my own?

Honestly, there isn’t a reason. It will likely be cheaper for you to source all these products and do the cables yourself. Quite simply, some people don’t have the skills/tools or don’t want to make these cables themselves. We don’t claim to buy the wire by the km and banana plugs by the thousands making our costs ridiculously cheap. Yes, we buy more than the average person and this does tend to give us slightly better pricing, but not by much. We then chuck a few dollars on top to cover the time it takes to put them together and to cover the cost of shipping and small overheads.

Alternatively, we sell our speaker wire so you can source your own plugs and make the cables yourself!

What are my choices with speaker plugs/connectors?

All our cables come with standard 4mm banana plugs which will fit just about every standard modern receiver. We can also do spade plugs, simply send us an email requesting them and we can swap them out for no extra cost.

We can also do bare wire or pin connectors for those with vintage equipment that often use 'spring' connectors.

As of April 2020, we offer BFA style plugs manufactured by Krix.

As of September 2022, we have released our Elitist plug which uses a fancier banana plug.

What is the difference between your Naked and Non-Naked Versions?

The Non-Naked versions simply add a Techflex sleeve for looks (and a little more protection). The wire itself and connectors are the same meaning performance will be identical. If looks aren't important, go the Naked version but if you want a cooler looking cable and happy to spend a little extra, run with the Non-Naked version!

Why are you even doing this if you barely make any money from it?

Home Theatre/Audio is a hobby. We enjoy this stuff. It’s a labour of love! We are not about to retire on selling a few speaker cables a week but the small amount we do make over the long term goes towards buying more Home Theatre/Audio goodies for ourselves.

(Admittedly, there’s a tiny part of us that hopes these cables go big, we can afford to hire an army of people to make them for us and then retire on a beach in Malibu in ours 30s… a boy can dream).

How long will they last?

Probably a lifetime, if used correctly. But I haven’t lived a full life to be able to guarantee that. If you have trouble with your cables that seem like ‘unfair wear and tear’, flick me an email and we will do what we can to rectify the issue. Obviously, if you use the cable for anything other than its purpose, you’re shit out of luck.

If you have any comments or feedback on our cables, please let us know, we are always looking to improve them.

Which speaker cable should I choose?

This decision will mostly come down to length. Check out the ‘Maximum Recommended Length’ guides on their respective pages or follow our more comprehensive guide here.

It also worth noting that 11 AWG is a heavy gauge cable. While still quite flexible, it can be painful for in wall runs and tighter turns. In most instances, the 13 AWG cable will be more than sufficient and easier to work with.

The distance between my front left and front right speakers is different, is this an issue? Should I buy the same length cable for consistency?

The short version is, nope, there's audible difference in having different length cables (within reason). Our cables are sold as 'each' allowing you to buy the smallest length needed to suit each speaker. While the resistance will be different between the 2 speakers with more power loss on the longer run, the difference is far from audible. We're talking a fraction of a decibel (less than 0.1 decibels in most instances). If we were talking a 100m run vs a 1m run, we might get start entering audible territory but don't stress if one speaker needs a 2m cable and the other 5m.

My run is more than 15m, I've heard this is bad, am I f@#ked?

Well no, it’s just not ideal. With runs longer than 50 feet (approx. 15m), there is more at play than just fixing resistance with thicker cable. Although this does come down to the frequency (higher frequencies are worse), it still does play a small part across the frequency range.

Again, refer to Roger Russell’s explanation and citations in the link below.

How is all this mumbo jumbo calculated?

With years of research and formulas produced by people smarter than you and I combined! I don’t pretend to understand everything, but I have done a fine job of reading between the lines of speaker cable over the past few years.

We allow for 5% loss in speaker impedance when quoting recommended runs. This figure is considered very conservative and more than sufficient for humans. Spiderman or Daredevil, with their heightened senses, MAY start to get critical of our cables over long runs though. Just don’t invite them over for a movie and you’ll be fine.

For more information on the ‘mumbo jumbo’, refer to our ‘Guide' Section.

What’s the difference between Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) and Copper Clad Aluminium (CCA)?

Long story short, OFC is more efficient. Resistance being equal, CCA produces the exact same quality of sound. Your wire length will determine the resistance. CCA cables are commonly imported from China, sometimes even claiming to be 100% OFC.

All our cables are 100% OFC manufactured in Australia to AS1125 standards by Tycab, a member of the Approved Cables Initiative (ACI).

For a better explanation and history of OFC vs CCA and why we have only chosen OFC cables, refer to Roger Russell’s ‘Speaker Wire a History’ linked at the bottom of this page.

What about Silver wire, I've heard this is the 'bee knees'?

Silver IS more conductive than copper, by about 5%. As with CCA vs OFC, assuming the same resistance, there is no audible difference between Copper and Silver. This means you do need SLIGHTLY thicker OFC cable to get the same resistance as Silver.

The reason we use Copper over Silver is obviously price. Silver is approximately 100x the cost of Copper! It's pretty hard to justify 100x the cost for less than 5% improvement you can't even hear.

If you can justify the cost, there are cables available in silver for literally thousands of dollars. But if you've read this far, you have no interest in spending thousands on cables.

Does strand thickness make a difference to sound quality?

The copper inside a speaker cable can vary in strand thickness. Every ‘conductor’ (copper within a cable) is made up of ‘x’ amount of strands at ‘y’ thickness. As far as resistance and ‘sound quality’ goes, the important measurement is ‘nominal area’, that is, the actual thickness of the copper itself. Which means, it doesn’t matter if you have 1000 strands making up a 1mm cable or 1 strand making up a 1mm cable, they will both perform the same.

More stands can add flexibility to the cable, but it really doesn’t make a large amount of difference once you get over a few strands. Electricians pull thick ‘single strand’ cable through houses all the time without too much trouble.

Our cables range from having 14 to 57 strands, more than enough to be flexible enough for most applications. Also keep in mind that the insulation will have a large effect on flexibility too.

Do your cables need to be 'broken in' or 'burned in'?

There is no evidence to suggest this makes any difference. We have not identified any differences in cables having used them for 10 minutes, 10 hours or 100 hours.

You haven’t listed a phone number. Can I call you?

We both have full time jobs as employees (roughly 8am – 5pm) and are unable to take calls during the day. We put these cables together after these hours and can organise calls during this time. Start by emailing us and we can work out the best approach from there.

What payment options do you offer?

Payments can be made by Debit/Credit Card or PayPal.

How long until you post my cables?

As all our cables are custom made to order, from the 1st of March 2021 there will be a up to a 1 week lead time on all cable orders from day of placing the order to when the cable is made with the cables being posted the next business day.

As an example, if you place an order on a Monday, the cable will be made by the following Monday and posted the next day on the Tuesday. Fortunately, this will be a worse case scenario with the majority of orders still expected to be made within 2-3 business days and posted the following business day but we do ask your work on the 1 week lead time to avoid disappointment over time frames.

Do you sell any other cables/accessories?

As of November 2018, we do! We now offer Interconnects because when we asked 'what else do you guys want us to sell', you asked for RCAs/Interconnects.

As of July 2019 we now offer Balanced XLRs and Jumpers.

Our capabilities don't end there. We can pretty much make up any home audio cable you can think of. Commonly people request XLR to RCA cables, we've even quoted up Mini XLR to 3.5mm jack cables. We have access to a wide range of cables and connectors so if what you want isn't listed, don't hesitate to email and we will see what we can do.

Do you offer bi-amp/bi-wire options?

We certainly do! As of March 2020, we have released bi-amp/bi-wire options. You can find them here.

I have no idea what you're on about with half this stuff, I just want a decent cable that isn't ridiculously expensive. Which cable should I choose?

14 AWG is the most commonly recommended wire for home theatre runs. It's not that much more expensive than 16 AWG and will be more than adequate for most speakers in runs up to 15m.

‘Speaker Wire: A History’ by Roger Russell: