Welcome To My Mind
(Hang on, the ride may get a little bumpy)
Okay, first things first. Full disclosure – I’m new to this.
Not new to building cables, as I’ve been doing that for about 20 years, but new to making them available to the public. I’m also new to building a website, so please forgive the odd design. There are also a few other things you should know about me, what I do, and how I do it. So, in no particular order:
I take building cables very seriously. I am proud of what I build, and I stand behind my work 100%. If you want to read about why I make cables, you can do so here
I try not to get bogged down with overly-technical terminology and/or industry jargon about the materials I use. However, I am upfront about my materials and why I use them, and you can read about that here
I have a simple cable design and construction philosophy:
I believe in Math and Science not marketing
Yes, I'm a bit of a hypocrite (sorry), as I do have a marketing slogan:
Hear More. Spend Less.
My goal is to make products with a very high build quality, which I believe directly corresponds to sound quality, and to ensure they are attainable/affordable for everyone and fit seamlessly in any system
I respect all of my competitors, as I know first-hand how tough it is to build high-quality cables. That said, I still want to eat their lunch/drink their milkshake. You can read a little more about that in the next section
As seriously as I take this, I like to have a little bit of fun with it (and my clients). While I don’t do this solely for fun, it is a major factor; if you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong
Speaking of having a little fun, I invite you to continue poking around my site and enjoy my musings about TV, movies, music, and… uh… hang on, I’m know I’m forgetting something...
Not just any cables, mind you – but well-built, hand-made, high performance cables without markup-ups that are, as my attorney would say,
NRG Custom Cables
This is about a 2-minute read, and I promise you it's worth it.
A power cord has two jobs – get electrical current from your outlet to your gear (using conductors and plugs), and keep the signal as clean as possible (using shielding). You could distill it further and simply say, despite what some companies may tell you in their marketing, a power cord conducts electricity. And when it comes to conducting electricity, there are a few guidelines to help keep you grounded (pun intended):
1. Larger Gauge = Lower Resistance and Voltage Drop
(more/better current flow – the garden hose vs. fire hose analogy)
2. More Insulation & Shielding = Less Interference & Lower Capacitance and Inductance
(cleaner and more efficient current/signal transfer)
Before I go any further, I want to address something perpetuated by various marketing departments, and even some publications and/or their reviewers about how cables in and of themselves "sound". I believe that a well designed cable simply maintains more of the original signal, allowing the sound of your gear to come through better. While I certainly agree that cables affect what you hear, I believe they only reveal more of what is already there - or less if they are poorly designed and/or constructed. I can spend all day on this, but moving on...
I have been making cables for about 20 years now, and in that time I've experimented with countless combinations of wire AWG's and configurations, assembly/build processes, and pretty much every "off-the-shelf" option there is for build materials. This included using materials nearly identical to the 10 AWG "DIY" power cables that seem to be everywhere these days (US/Canuck Audio Mart, Audiogon, various forums, etc.), and there was a time when I thought these types of cables were the best thing "guys on the street" could make for themselves (and/or others). As such, I made my last 10 AWG cable back in the early 2010's, and didn't upgrade anything for quite a while.
That all changed a little while back when I had the opportunity to make some new contacts who work on the manufacturing side of electrical wiring. After picking their brains about various products and manufacturing processes, our conversations eventually landed on power cables, and I finally had an opportunity to do a deep dive. Despite the fact there are benefits to using larger wire, power cables usually top out at 9 AWG ("brand-name", bulk wire, you name it), and I wanted to understand why. As the research piled up, I asked myself if I could finally upgrade my 10 AWG power cables (without re-mortgaging my house), and I’m about to answer that question.
In part, the AWG barrier exists because as conductor size increases, the insulation around said conductor must also increase. This significantly increases the overall size of the finished cable, and of course, increases manufacturing costs as well. The greater overall size of the cable and the larger individual conductors also make termination difficult, because if you don’t have the option of creating your own plugs (like some large-scale manufacturers do), you need to make due with aftermarket ones. Unfortunately, most aftermarket products were only designed to accommodate up to 9 AWG wire, so if you want to use anything larger, you need to be willing and able to modify them (and make some swear jar contributions). All this makes it very difficult to control your costs, both time and money, if you attempt to push past the AWG barrier. Therefor, the process of designing and/or building a larger AWG power cable presents quite a challenge.
Well… I accepted the challenge.
Why I Make Cables
I am what some would refer to as an "Audiophile".
In my view, that term simply describes someone who enjoys listening to music, and appreciates both sound and build quality, which I believe are directly linked.
That term has lost some meaning over the years though, as I feel that it's now used by some (too many) companies simply to justify their marketing and pricing.
I don’t know about you, but when I read phrases like "for the true Audiophile", and they are inevitably coupled with outrageous prices, it makes me want to scream (or pull my hair out... if I had any).
I find the gimmick-laden marketing and the over-pricing that goes with cables a little insulting.
I believe in Math and Science
I also believe that no endeavor should be entered in to without exhaustive R&D, and before you start making products and/or comparing them to anything else, you need to know what you’re up against.
As such, when I started this my first purchase wasn’t building materials, it was other cables.
Then came the fun part – cutting them up to see what was “under the hood”.
The cables that I cut up during R&D, were, in a word - disappointing. I can think of a few other words too, but I digress.
Furthermore, after deconstructing a well-respected $1500 power cable (see collage here) and looking at the materials and craftsmanship of it, I was also left with equal parts frustration and fierce determination.
This is where I am.
Frustrated with the build and material quality of reasonably priced cables, and determined to offer something better. And not only "better for the money", just plain better - PERIOD. You can decide if I'm currently doing that.
So, back to the big question - why do I make cables?
I do this because I don't like feeling that I'm being priced out of my hobby,
and/or that "audio bliss" is beyond my means.
I do this because I don't think you should have to re-mortgage your house to get
well-built, high-performance cables.
I don't want to end on a negative note though, so I'll end with the #1 reason why I make cables -
I do this because I love it.
Q. Where do I start when upgrading cables, and what cables should go where?
A. Always start your upgrade(s) as far "upstream" as possible, regardless of current draw. I recommend starting with a good quality wall receptacle (I know a guy who can help you with that...), then a cable for your line conditioner (if applicable). From there, work your way down the chain beginning with your source(s), then DAC/pre-amp, and end with your amp and speakers. Again, in my opinion, current draw should not be a factor in deciding where to put your "best" cable(s), just where the component sits in the power/signal chain. Some say put your best power cable(s) on amps given their high current draw, but if you're not feeding your amp(s) the best signal possible, then you are literally amplifying potential issues and/or shortcomings.
Q. Which cable model(s) should I get?
A. In terms of power cables and what is best for a particular piece of gear, contrary to how some manufacturers present their respective product line(s), I don't believe in power cable "types". My design and construction philosophy is to ensure as much current as possible is delivered to your gear, and it is kept as clean as possible with proper shielding. As such, I keep things simple by only offering two power cable models, and they share the same great shielding. The larger one ['The 5'] just delivers more current than it's little brother ['The .1' CS], so your decision(s) need only be based on your budget, not your gear.
Q. What am I going to hear, and when am I going to hear it (IE. What's the burn-in period)?
A. First, I try to shy away from telling anyone exactly what they're going to experience with my cables. I may not be the most persuasive person in the world (I'm trying to convince my wife that a bigger TV would be great for the whole family, and it hasn't worked... yet), but if someone tells you what you should hear, you'll either want to prove them right, or prove them wrong - not a good spot for either party.
Instead, I'll focus on the burn-in part, which also touches on your likely listening experience(s).
My cables are designed to minimize signal/voltage loss, so the bottom end will come in first. That is the end of the spectrum that suffers most from signal/voltage loss, or perhaps saying it's the most noticeable is more accurate. With this in mind, there's the possibly of the bottom end sounding somewhat "over-emphasized" out of the box, especially if you're replacing a generic/factory cable (IE. The lower the quality of the original cable, the more dramatic the difference in the new cable), but the rest of the spectrum quickly begins to "even out". From there, everything continues to open up, and the consensus is that the cable(s) settle in at around the 50-80 hour* mark. That said, many folks have reported continued system gains after 100's of hours.
*Note: The greater the current draw/flow, the faster the burn-in period
Q. Do cables really make a difference?
A. Oh boy, the proverbial can of worms, but here we go...
My obvious bias aside, the short answer is yes, they do.
Whether it’s transferring current (power cables), or a signal (interconnects and speaker cables), the concept is pretty simple - the less you lose, the more you hear.
A well made cable simply transfers more "information", and helps keep it clean by rejecting noise. You lose less, and hear more.
To put another way, a great set of tires will help ensure you get more "power to the pavement" and improve your handling, but a sub-par set... well, I think we've all been there.
Q. If the wiring in my house is 14 AWG & 12 AWG (most common), why is a larger AWG power cord necessary?
A. The long and short of it is this - the name of the game is minimizing loss from "Point A" (outlet/receptacle) to "Point B" (your gear). Whatever the voltage/signal is at "Point A", the goal is to lose as little of it as possible en route to "Point B". As such, don't get me started on "the last few feet of wire can't make a difference" crowd, as they drive me a little bonkers. However, in addition to gaining a firm grasp of what "Point A to Point B" means, I also recommend they look at things from the perspective of their gear and ask, "Does the first few feet make a difference?". As "The Backstory" section explains, larger gauge equals lower resistance and voltage drop, and that's why I make (and think you should own) larger AWG power cables.
If you don't like that answer, here's the tongue-in-cheek, Science schmience, full-on wise-a_s answer:
A. V12 engine may not be “necessary”, but if I could buy one for the price of a V6, it would be a pretty easy decision.
Q. What AWG are your power cables, and how is AWG measured and/or stated (in yours and others)?
A. This seems like it should be pretty straight-forward, doesn't it? As for the the first part of the question, I state my power cables as being 4.5 AWG ('The 5'), and 6.5 AWG (‘The .1’ CS) respectively. Now for the ulcer-inducing second part - there are no set rules for how AWG is stated. As such, here's some of what you'll see in the industry:
- Some companies call it the total of all the wire in the cable (not including shielding). That makes for a big number, but it's useless information; It's like a car company telling you the total combined horsepower of all their models.
- Others state what each run of wire is, but they leave out their function (how many are being used for what), so you have to work it out for yourself; Now you have your individual horsepower ratings,... but no corresponding models.
- Then there's the folks like me, who state it as the total AWG of each main conductor ("Hot" & "Neutral"), with the Ground conductor getting a separate listing. This tells you exactly what's inside and what its function is, so you will always know exactly what you're getting (a novel idea, I know).
Q. Why do you cover the plug housings with heat shrink tube on your speaker cables?
A. A few reasons, none of which were motivated by wanting to hide the materials I use. First, they are poly-carbonate (hard plastic) housings which don't offer much in the way of insulation/shielding, and the shrink tube I use provides a little of both. Second, I use heavy gauges, so I want abundant strain relief. Last but not least, all of the heat shrink tube I use is adhesive-lined, so not only is it STRONG, it provides an air-tight seal, which is ideal for terminations.
Q. What makes you qualified to make/sell cables?
A. Formally? Nothing, unless you count my years in home A/V sales and installations. (what a great sales pitch, eh? - yep, I'm definitely Canadian)
However, I’ve been making cables for friends and colleagues (and myself, of course) for nearly 20 years. Additionally, all my builds are thoroughly tested against various “high-end” cables to compare sound and build quality – I’ll be modest and simply say that they hold their own. I also recently checked on the oldest builds of mine I could track down (from 2002) to ensure that the build and material quality are standing the test of time – they are. Finally, and most importantly, I truly believe that I am providing a viable alternative to the current offerings, pricing, and total B.S. marketing out there for cables. I think my feedback and testimonials bear this out.
1. Please fill out the contact form to begin the process, and/or ask any questions.
2. If you are satisfied with my response(s), provide me with your complete shipping information, including your phone number for the customs declaration if you are outside of Canada, and I'll send you a proper invoice with an estimated lead time (usually pretty darn accurate), and the payment information.
3. Payment can be made anytime before your order is ready (again, you'll know your lead time when ordering), but if you want to pay right away, I certainly won't refuse. Immediate payment is required for DIY Supplies/Accessories though (IE. Anything I don't have to build), as they will be shipped within 48 hours.
4. Once payment is received, I'll generate the shipment right away and send you the tracking number.
*Note: I normally use Canada Post for all of my shipping (the shipment/tracking is "transferred" to your National postal service once it arrives in your country), but I currently use FedEx or UPS for shipments to the U.S.
5. Receive your cable(s) and ENJOY!
6. Leave feedback on canuckaudiomart.com or on my Google listing, and/or let me know your thoughts privately (I will not post or share them without your permission). This of course is optional, but it is very much appreciated.
All Cables Include:
1. Disappointment in your current/soon to be former cables - cheeky little bugger, aren’t I?
2. 60-Day 100% MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE:
If you're not happy with the performance, return the cable(s) and I'll refund every penny - including shipping
NO STRINGS. NO B.S.*
*okay, one tiny bit - I'll pay the return shipping for Canadian clients, but International clients are responsible for their own
3. #2 is probably a moot point - see #1
Last, but not least, if you live or work in or around Winnipeg, we’ll work out a hand-delivery or pick-up.