Parallel Speaker Cable Wiring Analysis

Blue Jeans constantly tries to drive down the cost of our hobby, and of course we do that with our wire products. The BAV (Belden Audio Video) line is a stepping stone to more complex and expensive designs, called ICONOCLAST(TM). The BAV line uses larger production products that are “repurposed”, based on test results and wiring configurations, to leverage volume costs.

Four separate and different cable examples demonstrate how parallel cable halves L and R but doubles C. The physics delivers that every time all the time.  If this theory is TRUE, it impacts EVERY cable put in parallel. Usage is upon the user to evaluate the change in capacitance based on the root cable electrical and length.

We recently added 1310A speaker and sub cable to our BAV line of products based on excellent test results. This paper will cover exactly WHY we added 1310A and even better, will show you how to improve speaker cabling to get meaningfully better measured electrical.

What exactly is dual cable bi-wire anyway? Here is the full Monty application pictured below. 

In this application we see TWO cable sets parallel to the speaker bi-wire terminals. Each speaker terminal sees FOUR wires in parallel. Why would you want to do this? This report will investigate the double and single parallel cable arrangement and show a full set of measured results using four different speaker cables so we can assess the advantages. The copper draw science — TPC, OFE and SPTPC and other metallurgy — have no impact on parallel wires’ L and C, just R and that is very small. L and C change a lot as we will see.


ICONOCLAST is a woven set of two BONDED PARALLEL wires in PARALLEL with several more, 24 or 48 total parallel wires per polarity. We already use parallel wires to reach electrical properties you can’t approach with just two wires and aren’t really doing anything new. Electrical circuits see different parallel current paths with ALL cables that use insulated multi-wire arrangements. Even though it looks like ONE wire on the outside, it is several in parallel on the inside.

The series II ICONOCLAST pushed the machines as far they can, to reach proper electricals with smaller 28 AWG wire. To get that last bit of DCR well below audible, TWO cables are used in parallel on the bass side. The series I ICONOCLAST already has low 9600 CMA DCR and is full range, so to speak.  DCR in both designs improves paralleled, though. We shall see what this is all about as we work through the actual measurements in this study, so we can see for ourselves what is happening.

Some cables are high capacitance. One cable can load the amplifier far worse than low capacitance paralleled wires. The TOTAL capacitance needs to be calculated to understand the circuit behavior.  A single 1800 pF/foot cable is a higher reactive load on your amp than paralleled 1313A, 1310A or ICONOCLAST series I or II cable.  Yes, some cable designs are just long capacitors. A capacitor has low inductance and that’s the single-minded design goal. DCR is just a function of the CMA area of all your wires added up. What if we want to drive down ALL the variables such that the balance is better for us? Keeping capacitance low is important so the base designs are all low capacitance and inductance. We will see that capacitance ADDS in parallel. One cable, or more added in parallel, adds capacitance from all individual circuits (every single little wire is a R, L and C network).


How does all this get the right signal to the right place? Electricity is lazy and is frequency dependent, and will ALWAYS reach the LOWEST energy state possible, static or moving. This is how a cross-over divides up the signal based on the input impedance, or resistance, across a specific frequency range. The electricity will follow the easiest path.

When a frequency leaves the amplifier terminals it (believe it or not) looks at the far end for the LOAD at that specific frequency and takes the path of least resistance. Consider a speaker with a 200 Hz and a 2000 Hz cross-over inside. Signals that leave the amplifier below 200 Hz go to the woofer, signals between 200 Hz and 2000 Hz go to the mid-range and signal above 2000 Hz go to the tweeter. The electrons all know the easiest path to the right load based on frequency. The speaker’s internal cross-over is designed to tell the electrons where they need to go with frequency. We aren’t doing anything different than with ONE wire. The speaker still divides it all up based on frequency. What we are doing, is adding a better measuring cable to the circuit with external parallel wiring.


In the pictured case above there are TWO identical cables in parallel to each speaker section, woofer (200 Hz and down) and mid / tweeter (200 Hz and up). The cables are 4 feet long and this length has to be considered, as we shall see. The cables are all in parallel at the amplifier even though we have TWO sets of terminals. They are still connected in parallel inside the amp…it just makes it easier to hook it all up.

What happens when we parallel cable? From a textbook viewpoint the resistance halves (twice the wire), the inductance halves (half the current in each wire) and the capacitance doubles (twice the plate area). If we add TWO parallel cable sets in parallel, we further keep halving R and L and doubling C. Does cable really behave like the parallel theory says?

To test the cables, high quality Cardas CABD banana were used to parallel the two cables. 10 AWG shorting wire plus spades were used for the “short” open-short impedance tests.

The test configuration allows a reliable and consistent termination. In-use would use the Cardas CABD banana and terminate the second cable spades onto the CABD as shown below. This removes a banana needed for the test set-up when we used locking banana on one cable end, versus the CABD, and spades on the opposite end.

The picture below shows the Cardas CABD banana terminated directly into the amp 5-way binding post with the second parallel cable spade terminated directly into the CABD body.


The following tables show the measured data for four sets of different cables both single and parallel. Each leg is measured for consistency, and then we parallel and re-measure to evaluate the theory to application. Four cables have been used to give a better idea how this potentially translates to other cable.



DCR METER Valhalla 4176

1313A – 10 feet. 10 AWG dual wire ZIP CORD style.

1310A – 10 feet. 14 AWG x 4 legs STAR QUAD style.

SERIES I ICONOCLAST – 10 feet. 24 x 24 AWG  weave style.

SERIES II ICONOCLAST – 10 feet. 48 x 28 AWG weave style.

The data follows the theory pretty closely. We see that R and L roughly HALVE and the C roughly DOUBLES in parallel. What can we do with this information? It is often difficult to drive inductance low in a single cable. If we chose a cable with the capacitance in check (100 pF/ft or less) we can consider the possibility to DOUBLE bi-cable arrangements and enhance the electrical much more economically. This is a nice way to boost reasonably priced cable’s electrical.

Two 1310A when attached to a single set of binding posts measure to very good electrical values in the table above. What if we want to bi-cable and bi-wire a double set to EACH set of speaker binding posts? The amplifier will see the total capacitive load for all four cables. This is why LENGTH and capacitance, both, need to be considered. Capacitance is per foot. For high quality cable parallel wire is a VERY good way to improve R and L electrical for speaker cable. It is extremely difficult to make a single aggregate cable that measures this well.

1310A when wired star quad, is two legs in parallel, and then for bi-wire (separating the woofer and mid/tweeter sections) two of those are in parallel to each amplifier’s binding post like the initial pictured example using ICONOCLAST, that’s four cables in parallel off each binding post to the speaker.

All the current Blue Jeans cable has low capacitance and tested in 10 foot real world assembly lengths and with connectivity. Why worry about capacitance when we all know that the first order filter roll-off is way above audible? Amplifiers that are too capacitive-loaded can oscillate. Modern amplifiers are better stabilized than wide-band amplifier of the past but still, adding a cable load PROBLEM that we need to solve with the amplifier’s design or a Zobel network isn’t the best engineering. This is why I have limited the capacitance of the cable to proper values that even pretty picky amplifiers won’t have issue with in 10 feet parallel, and even double parallel, lengths. Do check with your amplifier’s capability to drive the TOTAL capacitance.

Looking at the data charts above for each example the INDUCTANCE and RESISTANCE do drop to roughly HALF of what they were before. If capacitance isn’t too high, we can really give the cable assembly an electrical improvement with parallel cable. What does it do that we can see in the data? We have graphs for that.

All the data is real, and tested, with actual assemblies. Raw data is in the appendix support section. The first graph is the measured IMPEDANCE for ONE cable. Next graph is the IMPEDANCE after we wire two cables in parallel.  The data shows that parallel cables reduce the impedance substantially.

The graphs above are the OPEN-SHORT impedance of the ten foot samples. Audio isn’t RF, and we can’t test short lengths accurately other than open-short for accurate results as the wavelengths are too LONG to fit enough into the cable to be a true transmission-line (typically 10 wavelengths for a stable RF situation). The LENGTH has to be typical of the use as well, so ten foot assemblies have been used to keep the data comparable. Different lengths WILL change the data but not the pecking order of what’s low or higher impedance as the R, L and C are per unit length.

The IMPEDANCE is MUCH lower when we put two cables in parallel to the speaker terminals but passive cable cannot be eight ohm through low frequency audio as Vp, velocity of propagation, drops as frequency drops and RAISES the impedance. We can trick that rising impedance problem by doubling up cables and to better match the speaker load.

The frequency range to which the most power transfer function is being applied is the WORST impedance match to the speaker. Many discussions about cable center on this issue, and how it helps or hurts the sound quality.  Mitigating it (as best we can) seems to be the most appropriate answer, and we can budget the improvement for our needs.

1310A using star quad wiring and ICONOCLAST lower the impedance even when using single wire over 1313A “zip cord”. Dual wire lowers impedance and resistance even more. Zip cord type 1313A isn’t electrically ideal enough to mitigate the impedance issue when comparatively measured. Basic 1313A zip cord design cannot reach the better electrical. 1310A, a reasonably priced cable, eclipses 1313A when it is wired star quad.

The following two chart traces are just the loop path SHORTED component of the IMPEDANCE data. The 20 Hz and DC loop DCR figures should nearly match if the two test instruments are calibrated properly. I use the Valhalla for DCR and the HP unit for swept points frequency data. We do indeed see proper DCR and 20 Hz loop resistive values at the low DC/20 Hz anchor point.

We’d like to see “zero” resistance across frequency and what we see is a composite effect across frequency that increases the resistance even in the audio pass band. Skin depth, proximity effect and attenuation effects to name a few are the culprits. Please look at the UNITS. It is in mill-ohms. That a SMALL measure but it is measurable through the analog audible range and below even 10 KHz. 1310A and ICONOCLAST are far flatter through audio. Not all cable can measure really well here.

Series II ICONOCLAST does raise the capacitance on purpose to substantially reduce the Vp through audio, and this also keeps the impedance lower. Audio is a trade-off and you can’t have both at the same time- one affects the other. Series II flattens the VP so it is more equal through audio but the equation required a higher DCR (28 AWG insulated wire) and higher capacitance to do that. The provided low frequency Vp equation tells you what needs to happen, not how to make it happen.

Simpler 1313A and 1310A cable designs cannot do this optimization with fewer fatter conductors. The BIG wire’s DCR is too low.  Series II does have the best Rs, lowest impedance and lowest Vp linearity but it is designed to be paralleled to REALLY shoot ahead in the bass region to where it is then the best of the best everywhere.

Comparing the following two charts below we can see that the resistive component of open-short impedance is cut theoretically in HALF when we parallel the cables. The data also shows that that’s what we really see in the actual application. This is the BULK frequency resistance, not each individual insulated wire loop frequency resistance. All traces converge at the “DC” loop value at the left side of the charts.

Three designs have a lower impedance average and better resistive Rs uniformity than zip cord 1313A can offer, but the designs get more complex, especially ICONOCLAST that leverages multiple small wires for Vp properties that also optimally tune the capacitance limit at the low end to keep impedance low. ICONOCLAST uses 24 and 48 wires in parallel in each polarity. Then we put those in parallel! Yes, it is a complex circuit best measured as those values are the facts in real world use.

See the ICONOCLAST Vp tech paper. It takes a lot of design work to eke out the Vp effects and not raise the L and C too much, all the while keeping bulk DCR, swept resistance, and impedance low.


Using this data, we see that paralleling a REASONABLE length cable can benefit electrical performance. All this complexity is still subject to audible evaluations, as we just covered graphs and numbers to support the cable arrangement. BAV and ICONOCLAST are all about the numbers supporting what we do and why. If the supporting numbers aren’t better, what is?

APPLICATION ONE – for a VERY economical solution just parallel your existing single post speaker cable. This makes even 1313A look much better. If we are still wanting to better match speaker impedance at the low end (below 200 Hz or so) we can consider a more complex cable like 1310A or ICONOCLAST in parallel. Series II ICONOCLAST was designed to be used in parallel. Why? Because it eliminates the higher 24×28 AWG DCR. A more complex single cable to mitigate that higher CMA value would cost far more than using two Series II ICONOCLAST in parallel. The 65 pF/foot capacitance was purposely used to hold the impedance low as well as the total capacitive load.

The series I or II in parallel double the CMA. CMA, Circular Mil Area, is just the wire diameter squared and added up. When we add the wire path length and connectors compared to the bulk CMA DCR, we measure 1.185 ohm/1000′ and 1.49 ohm/1000′ for the series 1 and II respectively. See the data charts above and raw data.

1313A will be closest to the calculated CMA DCR. There is one single wire path length, so we measured 1.12 ohm/1000 feet.

APPLICATION TWO – Use a star quad like 1310A. This is really a MULTIPLE parallel “quad” situation. We are already technically two legs parallel with ONE 1310A star quad. This is how we drive down the INDUCTANCE compared to 1313A or zip cord. Put TWO 1310A in parallel and we have another doubling of the paralleling property. This is how the 1310A gets to where ICONOCLAST is on low frequency impedance numbers. For a really nice cost center, use 1310A paralleled to the woofer and mid / tweeter in what I call parallel and bi-wire assemblies.

APPLICATION THREE – This is the most elaborate and expensive method with any cable. Optimally we use ICONOCLAST series I or II. The series I can be used parallel in the bass region at a lower cost, and the series II parallel in the upper mid/tweeter. This is what you see in the earlier picture. Or, you can use series I or II in both places. For the best performance keep the series II ICONOCLAST paralleled in the upper frequency range.

NOTE – DO NOT parallel different cable designs to the same driver(s) as the time-based properties need to be crossed over between cable groups and through the frequency range each cable is used across.

SUMMARY Proper design principles will transfer to other applications if it is a solid, repeatable, process. We do have unique DESIGNS but the underlying physics is impartial, it works everywhere you use it. This is why 1313A and 1310A act the same as ICONOCLAST when paralleled

If a cable gets too complex to improve, why not take advantage of measurable benefits of parallel cable? True, we need to add-up the capacitive effects but most cable with less than 100 pF/foot capacitance and shorter lengths will allow you to try this measurably improved solution. Not all cable will show the Rs improvements 1310A and ICONOCLAST do, so be aware that DESIGN influences that parameter. And, the use of multiple small wires to flatten Vp and tune the low frequency impedance, both, are not possible in simpler designs like 1313A and 1310A because the conductors are too low DCR. I covered the Vp issues in a separate paper with calculated and measured impacts of what R and C do with multiple small insulated wire and why it is a better, but VERY complex, solution.

1310A is a new BAV team member with the proper testing and certification for our hobby that does great job of bringing even more value that everyone can afford. Blue Jeans is happy to push the lower priced products as close as we can to ICONOCLAST. The provided data demonstrates that 1310A wired in a star quad and parallel arrangement does exactly that, it moves above and beyond 1313A but, it is a more expensive design. ICONOCLAST trickles down as much as we can.


The following are the actual test reports on each cable for those that want to see everything. One thing to note, that Rs impedance at 20 Hz has to near match the DCR tested with a Valhalla unit. The HP is a SWEPT frequency point set of data, and I always check that the DCR and the 20 Hz HP unit are in close correlation to verify the accuracy of the tests.

Builder’s Blog – The OctoQuad

[written by Jeff with some revisions by Bob Howard]

Cable design engineer Galen Gareis has been testing and analyzing, parallel speaker cable wiring.  Essentially this uses two cables in parallel for each channel to reduce inductance and resistance. 

Galen had me build several assemblies that he then tested for actual comparisons. 

This testing was at first based on several of the speaker cables available as both BAV and Iconoclast branded products.

One assembly that I sent was Belden 1310A.   Some may recognize this as a “star quad,” four conductor 14 AWG that in some ways is similar to other “branded” product. In particular I had been working with this cable targeting certain REL subwoofer applications but I soon saw and recognized the potential for other speaker assemblies. The REL subwoofer cables are now offered on our site representing a great enhancement over the OEM cables and with a significant saving in cost. 

Galen then had two regular assemblies connected together to a single set of bananas as a sort of adapter.  I figured that wouldn’t be very practical for most folks who would want a clean assembly with as few connection points as possible and may not be able to ‘stack’ spades onto single posts. 

When the results were revealed, we were all very pleased to see how well the 1310A performed in a star-quad configuration as a single when compared to 1313A but in particular in “parallel.” On June 23rd  Galen published a technical bulletin that presents the procedures, parameters and results of his work. This data was presented on the PS Audio Iconoclast by Belden thread and is available to anyone who asks. Science and math, no snake oil here.

Galen’s review and testing revealed that 1310A in single or “parallel/dual” is measurable and quantitatively a significant improvement over Belden 1313A. The Belden 1310A product offers a number of application specific and performance enhancement options. 

Consider the double/parallel application as the ultimate “tweak” for performance in speaker cable. The application of Galen’s test data applies to all speaker cables and not just to BAV and Iconoclast.  Is not for everyone but the data is impressive. Listening tests from customers is unanimous. 

Iconoclast tech Andrew suggested it be called ‘Octo-Quad,’ which we like very much. To me, this invokes images of a giant octopus living in Puget Sound. The name stuck, and going forward this special cable assembly will be referred to as such. We now offer the Octo-Quad assembly as a new addition to the BAV product line. 

Here I would like to show you the step-by-step on how I built this beast.

First is measurement- I am going with 5 foot for this set. Lengths should not be too long for this assembly as the capacitance can get quite high. I am measuring right at 5 feet feet so the electricals are as close to 5 foot as possible. Two cables for each channel of course!

The next step is the techflex weave. I like this because it keeps everything together and gives it a nicer look. I’m going for 5 inch leads on each end, with a little bit of overlap between the edge of the jacket cut and the techflex ends. A hot knife keeps the cut on the Techflex looking nice and clean.

Now, I remove 5 inches of outer jacket from each end, exposing the insulated conductors.

For this cable we have four wires, color coded red, green, black, and white. To get the star quad configuration, it is necessary to pair up the wires that are across from each other rather than adjacent. Here would be black and white combined for the negative, and red and green for the positive. I’m going to heatshrink it over anyway, but this color coding is easy for me to remember so I can be consistent all around. I have also stripped the ends to expose the copper. Since I have to fit it inside a banana, I need a long strip length- 7/8″. If I was terminating with spades 5/16″ would do.

Now for the crazy part- I need to combine the two cables in parallel, so the two black/white pairs need to get wound together- same with the two red/green pairs. Each leg is now made up of four 14AWG conductors- that’s an 8AWG aggregate!

Each leg is bound together with heat shrink. Because of the way the individual wires come from different points the heat shrink can’t go all the way to the outer jacket cut, but since I left a little extra techflex that gap can be covered. The heat shrink needs to go a bit over the copper to make a smooth taper into the back of the banana. That’s a lot of material to fit in one connector!

Now I can cover the jacket transition area with a larger piece of heat shrink. Since Techflex is sensitive to heat I am covering the exposed part with a rag. Underneath the little bit of melt will make a nice finished look without too many bumps.

Finally I weld on the banana. Because I have stripped the wires back more, but covered a bit of them with shrink, there is plenty of copper to weld leaving no gap at the back of the banana. Took some trial and error to get that just right! I wasn’t sure how much weld energy it would take but it turned out to be very close to the amount we use for 10AWG, so that made it easier.

And here is the final result! It’s on the heavy side but more flexible than I would have expected. Electrical tests show a capacitance of 86 pF/ft, .06uH/ft, and .01mOhm. See Galen’s paper for more on the electrical theory. This set will go home for some listening tests.

It’s always stimulating to do work like this, and having been doing cable assembly for almost 17 years at Blue Jeans, any challenge is welcome!

Speaker Cable Design Brief

Speaker cables are a very different animal than high input impedance interconnecting cables. A speaker cable connects to an extremely inconsistent 2-32 ohm (or even lower and higher!) reactive load created by the speaker. RCA and XLR interconnect cables see a much more consistent and resistive high impedance load making their electrical measurements far easier to predict. The speaker cable also suffers from the audio band’s velocity of propagation non-linearities seen in the interconnect, but also has to figure out a way to be LOWER in impedance to better match the speaker load, while the velocity of propagation is going DOWN, and this naturally increases the cable’s impedance. How is all this managed as best we can?  This paper is a walk through on how ICONOCLAST™ speaker cable addresses some of these issues.



  1. Conductors.
    1. Copper Size.
  2. Dielectric material(s).
  3. Dielectric geometry.
  4. Shield material and design considerations.
  5. Jacket design and material considerations.
  1. Conductors

For speaker cables, the first issue that has to be decided is how much CMA (Circular Wire Area) you need based on the application. This isn’t always an exact science as the cable length and speaker type will change your calculated answer. The speaker cable becomes part of the cross-over network in the speaker. The amplifier sees BOTH components as one load. 

Since the cable is seen as part of the speaker, it is easy to understand that the “reactive” relationship is between the speaker plus speaker cable and the amplifier.  Speakers vary by design so the overall speaker component back EMF portion of this load into amplifiers varies. Amplifiers of differing design react to the back EMF and the overall performance can be hard to predict. The goal is to “remove” the cable as best we can between the amplifier and speaker. Cables should not be tone controls, but that’s the goal of EVERY component!

The analysis below looks at the calculations that have been made to settle on the total CMA area for benign reactions to the frequency response of a typical set of loudspeaker loads. And yes, these are NOT real time resistive loads but as always, an approximation.

The general rule of thumb is that you want the total speaker cable resistance to be less than 5% of the speaker impedance PLUS the cable resistance value to avoid speaker frequency response interactions;


Vout = Vin x R2 / (R2 + R1)

ICONOCLAST™ total CMA size mitigates appreciable calculated frequency response changes, and stopped at 9600 CMA (10 AWG). 

For most practical applications of 0 to 35 feet, 9600 CMA per polarity should work well to be resistively invisible to the speaker, or amplifier. We want the load to be the speaker, not the cable.

HOW we get to the approximate 9600 CMA per polarity is the hard question. For those that want the easy way out we have one, 1313A. If we want to see if we can DESIGN a better MEASURING cable let’s see what can be done with Belden technology.

In order to figure out what best to do, I looked at things that indicate what NOT to do. We all know by now, that multiple smaller wires (to a point!) are better than one fat 9600 CMA solid or stranded wire.  The operative here is, to my ear, TIME based issues at audio. You want the signal to be most uniform through the wire for improved current coherence (more identical frequency arrival times). To make that happen, we decrease the wire size so that the skin depth penetration goes deeper into the wire, evening out the differences in current magnitude with respect to frequency.  This technique better aligns the signal speeds through the wire. I said “better” as there is no perfect way to do this. But we can certainly be better. The depth is calculated based on frequency and material. The wire size does not change the penetration, it DOES change the minimum current found in the center of the wire. The smaller the wire, the closer the center current magnitude matches the surface current as signal frequencies go up.

Studies were made on various geometries that would hint at what type of conductor to use, and how many. What various design limitations be “inside” the ~9600 CMA resistive box we want to be within?

Probably the easiest approximation for a cable with multi-sized wires is a flat design.  Yep, line those wires up and stop when you reach the proper AWG size.  The parallel wire tested issues lead (pun there?) me away from this simple design. Why? I looked at our TEFLON® ribbon cable for that answer.

A really nice “flat” TEFLON® Ribbon Cable

Above is a TEFLON® ribbon cable I used to test polarity symmetry, and capacitive symmetry WITHIN each polarity.  The two tables below graph the capacitance from the outer edge wire to the opposite polarity, all opposite polarity wires grounded together.

1 kHz10 kHz
STD DEV=0.8620.761
@1 kHz

The data says that the CONSISTENCY of FLAT cable is not perfect. The closer each wire gets to the opposite polarity, the higher the capacitance. The GROUND reference is more robust the closer we get, and the less distance between two wires, all else the same, the higher the capacitance. We have EACH and every wire, for all intents and purposes, acting like a different wire. ANY cable with more than ONE wire per polarity will have this issue to contend with. How can we do better on capacitance control in each polarity?

For the answer to that we need to turn to inductance. When you separate the two polarities in a flat design, inductance is seemingly well controlled. Each parallel wire has current going in the exact same direction in each polarity half so the magnetic fields CANCEL one another. The closer to the inside polarity separation zone you go, the more the opposite polarity’s different current direction upsets the SYMMETRY of the inductive cancellation process. There is non-linearity through the “flat” polarity, too, but it is worse near the edges of each polarity where the “design” changes.

Two wires with the SAME current direction next to each other cancel some of the fields’ gauss density between them, and two wires next to each other with opposite polarities reinforce the magnetic field lines.

Below are two close proximity wires. Notice that the current direction “adds” between the wires with the magnetic field flux lines in the same “reinforcing” direction. If we FLIP the current direction of one of the wires, the currents cancel but now we have two of the same polarity to get the cancellation effect. This is the problem with ZIP cord. We can get low capacitance, but it is not practical to get the lowest inductance.

To prove a point, a single bonded pair used in ICONOCLAST measured by itself is 12.5 pF/foot and 0.196 uH/foot inductance, about what 1313A reference zip cord is (chart below). This isn’t the best reactive variable balance of L and C for a premium current delivery cable.

In the tested flat design there are inconsistent ground plane issues that have to be resolved, AND there are inconsistent electromagnetic field cancellation properties, too, through the “flat”. The problems are locked-in by the geometry of this cable specimen, same as the issues with zip-cord.

What is GOOD about a flat cable that and can we use those positive attributes and mitigate the bad aspects? The answer to that question lies in a BONDED pair used at RF frequencies. To get to the answer for speaker cable, we need to re-invent what a BONDED pair does at audio. Re-designing a bonded pair for audio leads to what size and count wires we can manage in forward processes. We STILL don’t have the conductor size or quantity question answered after all this.

What is a bonded pair? A BONDED pair is two co-joined wires. A super geometrically consistent zip cord design with superior adjacent wire BOND technology. The precision C-C of each wire controls impedance at RF to incredibly small variation.


A zip cord removes a lot of symmetry complexity for poor magnetic field cancellation properties. Adding wires to the zip cord to make it a FLAT cable just adds to the capacitive and inductive “cable in a cable” issue as every wire becomes its own drummer. Coherence is improved with more small wires that add to the same CMA, but we don’t really have “one” like polarity for each signal anymore.

Tests show the inconsistent capacitance in a FLAT arrangement. Tests can also show the INDUCTANCE issues with zip- cords. A single bonded pair is 0.196 uH/foot inductance. This value is far too high for the state of the art R, L and C cable that is the intent of the project.

How is using another bonded pair zip cord component going to fix this mess? The answer is in the XLR cable. We need to build STAR QUAD arrangements of BONDED pairs! Visualize the currents using the right hand rule;

Like the XLR, two BONDED pairs in a QUAD arrangement show ideal field cancellation with LIKE polarity current all in the same within the same polarity. This field cancellation property of star quads tells us fundamentally we need two polarities using many wires in a star quad arrangement. There isn’t an answer as to how, yet, just that a true star quad is a key element we need to keep.

The solution was a compromise, as is usually the case in audio cables. The design devised a way to create star quads THROUGHOUT a process that varied between near perfect, and slightly imperfect. It was done with 100% consistency within each polarity so every wire measured the same inductance and capacitance to the opposite polarity, and made significantly lowered inductance with only a moderate rise in capacitance. The capacitance was increased on purpose, I might add! More on why I did that later.


The above illustration shows the variation in the STAR QUADS between like bonded pairs in a polarity. The question is does it work; capacitance measured 45 pF/foot between polarity wires and inductance measured 0.08 uH/foot. Capacitance variation, and the electromagnetically tied inductance variation, is superb.


The difference in reactive stability between each wire in a single polarity, and BETWEEN each polarity can measures significantly better in ICONOCLAST.

1 kHz10 kHz
STD DEV0.1660.202

Tolerance is +/- 0.5 pF @ 1 KHz or more than 5 times tighter variation than the 8R28064 flat cable.

What was done was to BRAID, on a GHz capable braider, the needed wires to arrive at the 9600 CMA DCR requirement. The braider needed a symmetrical arrangement so an even number of bobbins was chosen, 12.  This is 24 wires per polarity. 9600 CMA / 24 = 400CMA per wire, or a 0.020” 24 AWG wire.

The braid DESIGN is not forthcoming, so the balance of electricals has to be understood.  Several, several design iterations were trialed before I froze the design around the proper braid relationship to arrive at a suitably balance reactive cable measurement.


People will “guess” that ICONOCLAST is a BONDED pair ETHERNET cable, and it is not. The REASONS and the DESIGN are not the same at all. All that is the same is the coincidence of a 24 AWG solid copper wire common to Ethernet.

Each polarity is BRAIDED and FLATTENED into a, you guesses it, FLAT shape! We essentially “fold” the flat cable over on itself into ONE polarity. Then, opposite polarities are tightly bound to keep LOOP area to a minimum, critical to inductance as the formula is GEOMETRY controlled, not the dielectric.


Measured Rs (skin effect / proximity effects)

            The nature of the magnetic fields can be indirectly MEASURED with an Rs measurement. The flatter the Rs, the better the skin depth / proximity effect are managed. Proximity effect is the currents in each polarity being “pulled” to the inside edge of each conductor, and away from the outside edge. This impacts conductor efficiency.


An awful lot of testing was done to identify the weaknesses of various designs. We wanted to avoid;

  • Inconsistent capacitance in each wire.
  • Inconsistent inductance in each wire.
  • Inconsistent ground plane interaction between wires and between polarities.
  • Inconsistent wire DCR between all wires.
  • Poor polarity DCR values (too high or low total CMA).
  • Inconsistent dielectric performance between each wire.
  • Poor frequency coherence in each wire.

After all the testing, a 20-mil wire diameter in a 24 wire (12 bonded pairs) woven polarity was created to match the design to the electromagnetic requirements.  The final design that drove the final wire size is 100% symmetrical in every measure on every wire.

Woven single polarities achieve class leading performance in polarity-to-polarity and wire-to-wire consistency while also providing exceptionally low reactive variables. The superposition of the magnetic fields drive inductance down from 0.196 uH/foot to 0.08 uH/foot, a 59% reduction in inductance, while holding capacitance to just 45 pF/foot. L and C can be CHANGED based on the woven DESIGN, but was optimized for speaker cable applications.

  • Dielectric material(s).

TEFLON® was chosen as it is again, the best solid dielectric there is. I needed a thin wall to bring the wires close together for inductance reduction but capacitance is an issue with 24 closely spaced wires. A capacitor is two parallel conductive plates with an insulator between them. To lower capacitance, I wanted a low dielectric constant plastic, Teflon®. To achieve the required low capacitance, more needs to be done to “thicken” the insulation without increasing loop area effects.

This seems impossible to do, but it isn’t with the woven design described above. The final insulation wall was driven by BALANCING capacitive gains with inductive reduction.  Dielectric geometry allowed this balance to be accomplished.

  • Dielectric geometry.

The requirement to meet capacitance ALSO drove the design to a weave pattern. Each polarity is SEPARATE from one another. There is NO interweaving of same polarity wires.

Some will ask about wires with several AWG sizes. Current will flow along the path of least resistance. This does not mean current won’t flow in specific wires, just that the majority of the current magnitude is shifted to the easier path. EVERY wire will have current at ALL frequencies. The magnitude will change and follow ohm’s law. Many differing wires sizes and electrical lengths can impact the signal arrival times across the audio band based on physical conductor lengths in composite wire size designs.

If we take two wires with the same exact skin depth (same frequency point being considered) but one wire has twice the surface area, more current will flow into the larger surface area wire. It offers less resistance. But, the lower resistance wire is a larger wire and isn’t what we would like if the current across the wire is to be more uniform. Bigger wires are better at lowering resistance at a given frequency because they have the most surface area. We use this at RF with a “skin” of copper to carry the lowest, yet still high, frequencies efficiently. The wire’s core under the copper is a material that is “filler” and has no current flow: steel, aluminum, etc.

At lower frequencies the current is diffusion coupled evenly through the ENTIRE wire. So if you send JUST low frequencies, use low a DCR wire as you can get.

Those are the extremes. Audio is weird in that we need to improve current coherence through the wire while it is trying to MOVE to the outside surface. We don’t care about attenuation as much at audio since it is negligible. We make the conscious decision to go for forced current coherence with more SMALL wires. This technically violates the practice of more “surface” area for lower attenuation at high frequencies for current coherence. Big wire is more surface area for attenuation while small wire is better current coherence but higher attenuation.  If you use one wire (interconnect) the current delivery has to be considered to the load. RCA and XLR cables have near zero current flow into the high impedance load so we can go for signal current coherence and suffer little attenuation. Speaker cables can’t use too few wires as there are 20-30 amps coursing through a speaker cable.

Audio is trying to TIME align the low and high frequencies, so the best, and most consistent, way to do this is to use more small wires that add-up to the low frequency DCR needs, and are small enough to FORCE the wire to see more and more cross sectional current usage at higher frequencies.  This means several small insulated wire that all need to be the same “single” wire.

The unique woven design does a LOT to reduce inductance and associated capacitance. How is 59% reduced inductance over a single bonded pair achieved?

    • Star quad wire arrangement.
      • Allows ideal geometry for low field strength.
    • Boned pair like polarity wires.
      • Allows star quads to be formed throughout the weave.
    • Separate polarity halve fields are NOT parallel, reduce field reinforcements.
      • Fields between polarities have some cancellation (wires that cross at ninety degrees cancel) since the cross at ANGLES, and not ever parallel.
  • Controlled Proximity effects / Skin effects
  • Measured Rs flat to 20 KHz.
    • Low dielectric constant plastic.
      • Thinnest possible C-C with the lowest cap.
    • Woven pattern averages out the wire-to-wire distances significantly.
      • Woven pattern separates the wires and “tricks” the bulk capacitive value to be far lower.

The last point on the capacitive reduction is also what we like in a FLAT design, but it is inconsistent. Average distance between any two wires in a braided polarity and thus between polarities is far more consistent.  The weave moves all the wires evenly, and consistently, to a closest proximity position and a max proximity position throughout the weave.  Capacitance and inductance DO vary, but they are exactly the “same” wire and at the same time as every other through the weave. The fattened weave holds overall capacitance to an unexpectedly low value of 45 pF/foot in a cable with such high conductor count. 

Low inductance leverages the same current direction in the bonded pair’s combined with the star quad wire geometry periodicity (end view photo above). And finally, the TIGHT textile weave between polarity halves force a low loop area and with wires never being parallel, further reducing inductance.

The overall reactance of the cable is shown in the graph below.

The chart illustrates a significant drop (yellow trace) in cable impedance compared to 1313A (blue trace).  We know all we need to know to figure out why this happened. The velocity, although variable, is nearly the same at each SPECIFIC swept frequency point. We need to look at frequency by frequency calculations. The capacitance is linear across the entire audio band so that’s a set value.

We have a set value of capacitance, and a nearly set value of velocity (there will be slight variation) at a given frequency. What is CHANGING is fundamentally the capacitance between cable designs for “impedance” characterization.

The impedance equation is influenced by the change in capacitance and thus lower measured impedance as the capacitance shows up in the denominator of the impedance equation.  Increasing capacitance from ~16 pF/foot to ~45 pF/foot decreases ICONOCLAST cable impedance. Speaker cables require low inductance and to get there without shooting capacitance through the roof. DESIGN is the overriding requirement, and materials alongside unprovable theory, are second.

Now we know why ICONOCLAST has the capacitance it does, as I can balance the inductance to industry leading values AND keep cap low, yet not so low as to increase impedance too high relative to the input requirement (impossibly low speaker impedance 8-ohms ideal). Cables go UP in impedance as you drop in frequency, the opposite of what we want. Listening test have to decide if the superb inductance or impedance matching with much higher cable capacitance is ideal.  Quick calculations will show capacitance problems with 8 ohm cables at audio once an amplifier is attached.

Don’t ignore the reactive time constants of L and C. We want an 8-ohm cable with NO L and C and zero resistance and you can’t do that. Getting cable “impedance” reasonably low is more reliably safe for amplifiers and TIME based distortions (lower L and C).

  • Shield material and design considerations.

I kept this topic here on purpose.  Some may already know that low impedance cables signal levels negate the need for a shield. And that’s a good thing because a shield over a speaker cable is darn near ALWAYS a bad thing for two reasons;

  • A shield will always increase capacitance of the cable. The question is how much.
  • To mitigate the capacitance increase, the shield must be moved significantly AWAY from the core polarities, increasing the size of the cable.

Shields are ONLY beneficial if the environment demands them. Shields inhibit the performance of cable in most cases. Coaxial cables being an exception as the shield defines the cable’s natural IMPEDANCE.  The ground plane proximity and uniformity are vitally important with short wavelength RF cables. Coaxial cables do just that. Audio is not RF, and these shields are more FUD devices than actual benefits, especially in speaker cables that have signals orders of magnitude over the background noise. Incidentally, the woven pattern in ICONOCLAST has a built-in immunity to RF not that that RF immunity is evident in the use of the cable.

View a SHIELD as a rain coat; great if you have water flying around but a major hindrance if you don’t. Audio seldom needs shielding on low impedance cables and here is why;

Magnetic fields decay rapidly with distance; ratio of 1/x^3. The best defense is to MOVE the low frequency electromagnetic cables away from one another. The foil and even braid shields are higher frequency shields that are ineffective at much below 1 MHz.  Magnetic fields lines need low permeability shield material (something a magnet will stick to) to route flux lines away from sensitive devices. A faraday cage is an example you can put something into to do this. Low permeability metallic shields are a pain to use (stiff and heavy). DISTANCE is the best remedy.

For EMI and RFI, the foil and braid shields used on Interconnect cable will be fine for RFI ELECTRIC field issues, but NOT 20Hz-20KHz magnetic fields.  Interconnect cables MAY have wide band input op-amps that can be needlessly hampered by RFI on the line. Speaker cable signal levels are many, many orders of magnitude above the RF and ICONOCLAST speaker cables aren’t a good RF conductor due to the weave pattern in the design.

  • Jacket design and material considerations.

All ICONOCLAST cables use FEP as the jacket to reduce UV sensitivity, plasticizer migration and chemical resistance.  The cables are designed to last decades.

SUMMARY – Little has been left to chance in the design of ICONOCLAST cable.  All the products are born from strict measurements and the management of known electrical parameters. Belden’s philosophy is to make as low and R, L and C cables as technically capable. The improvement to some may be unimportant. To others, and using different systems, they can be significant. The closer we manage the knowns, the better the tertiary elements will move along with those improvements. All cables “react” differently. ICONOCLAST is designed to offer the most benign interaction possible between your amplifier and speaker by leveraging high speed digital design principles to the much more complex audio band.