FAQ – NB Speaker Cables

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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 100% 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 wire we use it manufactured in Australia by Tycab and purchased from local electrical wholesalers. Our banana plugs are sourced locally by Australian owned and run businesses. We proudly use Space Hi-Fi for our standard banana plugs and spade plugs.

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. 

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!

Some of our cables, including plugs are cheaper than just the wire sold elsewhere for the same gauge wire and we can guarantee our wire is ethically sourced and made in Australia.

What are my choices with speaker plugs/connectors?

All our cables come with banana plugs. We did previously offer spade plugs but the take up was non existent. If you're desperate for Spade plugs, let us know and we can source some for you.

To keep costs down, our Tradie cable comes with a budget banana plug only.

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 labor 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 the 'Naked Superhero/Villain' is a heavy gauge cable. While still quite flexible, it can be painful for in wall runs and tighter turns. In most instances, the 'All Rounder' cable will be more than sufficient and easier to work with.

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.

Why do we call it ‘Tradie Cable’?

Because Tradies tend to have reduced hearing due to working in loud environments all their life (unless of course they were good boys and girls and wore earmuffs regularly). These cables aren’t obviously just for Tradies, they’re for those who are getting a little older, are generally hard of hearing, want a cheaper cable or simply don’t care about the small audible difference in thinner cables.

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.

I researched some of your cable, the ‘Superhero’ cable is listed as ‘trailer wiring’! What the?!

Tycab cable is used for a range of purposes. In this instance, we chose some of their cable listed for ‘automotive’ use. Why? Because it’s thick and it’s comparably cheap! Don’t let that worry you, the thickness of the cable is what’s important. Your receiver/speakers don’t know the difference between cable sold under the label ‘Automotive’ or under ‘Speaker Cable’. OFC is OFC and all Tycab cables are made with the same OFC which meets AS/NZ 1125 standards. The insulation used all carry a high fire rating and meet AS/NZS 3808 standards as well.

Do you offer bulk discounts?

We do!

Order 10 or more cables and use the code BULK5 to get 5% off your total order.

Order 20 or more cables and use the code BULK10 to get 10% off your total order.

This applies to cables only (not materials), in any variation.

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.

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.

Balanced XLR cables are not far off (looking like a March/April 2019 release).

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

We're getting this question more and more. We are struggling to find a suitable wire that is manufactured in Australia. We can get a 16 awg model but we really want be able to offer a 10-12 awg version.

We will keep at this one!

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?

The 'All Rounder'. It will do what you need and isn't ridiculously expensive. Even most self-proclaimed audiophiles won't be able to tell the difference between this and the Superhero/Villain. It's not as pretty as our sheathed Superhero/Villain, but if you're asking this question, you won't need it to be!

‘Speaker Wire: A History’ by Roger Russell:

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm