Tonearm Cables Overview
Your tonearm cable can be improved upon
There are many grades of tonearm cable on the market. We have listened to literally hundreds of tonearm cable variations, both from other manufacturers and different prototypes of our own.
Some cables are so poor they wreck the performance of a tonearm simply by robbing the bass and giving a “transparent” but overly bright tonal balance. Others may have a nice tonal balance but sound woolly and lack definition. The list of characteristics is lengthy but the two aforementioned examples give the general idea.
It is surprising that even expensive tonearms often have cables which can be significantly improved upon. For many years enthusiasts have improved their sound quality by upgrading their arm cables. However finding the best cables is not easy amidst a myriad of options. This article offers information on some of the best tonearm wires on the market which we make available to all tonearm owners whatever the brand.
Why tonearm Cable makes so much difference
The dramatic improvement that a good arm cable brings often shocks people as the reviews on this site show. So why is this? Tonearm cable is a highly specialist area because the signal levels involved are approximately 1000 times lower than those for normal interconnect cable. For this reason the signal magnification is far higher than any other part of the system. The quality and design of the cable also needs to be different to a normal interconnect. Subjectively it’s notable that better arm wires have much more impact than better interconnects – by a phenomenal margin with the very top cables (not necessarily price related).
Anatomy of a Tonearm Cable
If you are not familiar with the intracasies of tonearm wiring it helps to understand things by breaking the wiring into component parts each of which influence sound quality.
Cartridge Connectors – need to be tight fitting for good electrical contact and their material composition should be optimised
Headshell Wires – should be continuous with the internal wiring to avoid joints which slightly degrade performance. On many arms this is not the case.
Internal Wiring – needs to be relatively thin and flexible to minimize resistance to movement and reduce friction. Mechanical flexibility means that an electrically optimum cable cannot be used as these are generaly have more strands and are thicker.
Connection to External Cable – Because external cable it shielded there needs to be some form of transition so there internal wires can be continous and become external but with a shield added. Or they can be soldered to the external wires inside the base of the arm (hard wired). Or they can have a mechanical connector, the most common being a 5 Din pin.