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Speaker cable from old vacuum cord Q's.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Reactionjackson, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. Reactionjackson

    Reactionjackson Member

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    Hey all, I thought it would be a fun weekend project to assemble a few speaker cables from some of those old vacuum chords. I have two main questions, though.

    First and foremost where do you find the old vacuum chords -- I don't have any of my own so I'de have to look elsewhere.

    Secondly, I've heard some people talk about how they actually dig the tone more that these chords give when used as speaker cables. Have you any opinion?
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    They certainly sound better when used as speaker cables than to drive vacuum cleaners... ;)


    I'm the sort of guy that aquires old dead electrical equipment as a matter of course, and keeps any useful bits - but if you don't have a loft/garage full of this kind of junk, just keep a look out in dumpsters :).

    It doesn't have to specifically be vacuum-cleaner cord - any power cable of about the same rating will do. Probably a good use for that old 2-wire cord you took off your vintage amp...
     
  3. Reactionjackson

    Reactionjackson Member

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    :shivers: indeed! :p

    Whats the rating you generally look for? I wouldn't want to go blowing up some of my old Jensens here :eek:
     
  4. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    I've heard the Electrolux chords from 68-72 sound the best.
     
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  5. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    For short head to cab speaker cables I wouldn't go any thinner than 18 guage wire. Typically, I use 16 guage rubber coated entension cord cable as it fits easily into the large shell Switchcraft 1/4" plugs.

    There's a theory that copper wire, after lots of higher current audio frequency useage, becomes conditioned to work better at audio frequencies. So, old vacuum cords, after being exposed to 120v 60hz for many years, would seem to make for an ideal "conditioned" speaker cable....even if they look kinda ugly.
     
  6. thepimpdaddy

    thepimpdaddy Member

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    I recently had my old Electrolux in for service, specifically to change a power cord that stopped retracting. The guy looked at me funny when I asked him to return the old cord to me, but I brought it home. I'm hoping to wire them up to some connectors this weekend, and record an a/b test with a standard commercial heavy guage speaker cable. We'll get to the bottom of the tonal benefits/differences, I'm hoping . . .

    PD
     
  7. Babaji

    Babaji Member

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    ...Yes, they do work and sound better!...And, they are directional! One way will sound better than the other. Try it yourself! I've gotten a number of vacume cleaner power cables on trash day, at the curb. My favorite ones are from the 1950's, but ones from the 60's, 70's, 80's, seem to work well, as well! I first heard about this from my dear departed Amp Guru, Ken Fischer. His favorite was a 16' 1950's electrolux cable. When he told me about it, I laughed...Then he said "Try it for yourself". I did. It works.
    Bill
     
  8. hasserl

    hasserl Member

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    Alright, I'm on board with reusing old power cords for speaker wires. I've done it myself. But to say it sounds better than a brand new wire, I think that is pushing things. And to say it sounds better one way vs the other, that it is directional, that is just over the top. NO FREAKIN WAY!!!! You are hearing things if you think you hear a difference with the cord in one direction vs the other. It is all in your mind, not your ears.
     
  9. el34power

    el34power Member

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    Oh God please tell me your are kidding:worried
     
  10. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Sorry but directional is a load of crap. Leave those comments to the guys who put stones in various places of their living room to improve the acoustic benifits of their home stereo.

    Just buy some wire at Home Depot (18 gauge), solder some ends on it and have at it. If you want to condition it throw it outside for a couple days so the copper oxidizes.
     
  11. Dave_C

    Dave_C Supporting Member

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    Regarding the Electrolux and directionality, I wouldn't doubt it for a second anymore. As an EE, I was skeptical too, till I started experimenting with high-end directional speaker cables. So far, the Cardas Crosslink is the best I've heard. The EA Siren is also killer. I hear the most difference when using smooth high gain tones.
     
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  12. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    Another source of good cable is an old 2 wire extension cord. You shouldn't be using an ungrounded cord as an extension cord in any case so now you can recycle it into a load of different length speaker cables. I like the 14 ga. Oh and I cover all the jack sleeves and cord ends with red shrink wrap. That way I can tell a speaker cable instantly from an audio cable, if it is red it is a speaker lead. ;)
     
  13. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    Believe it or not, one of the [many] tone conversations that I had with Ken Fischer back in the 80's, when his health was better, was all about old vacuum cleaner cords....He liked his Electrolux cord/ cause that's what the Fischers' had for a vacuum cleaner......It was about getting a bit of a warmer/organic tone out of a particular Express amp he built......great subject..........rest his soul......
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    >>Leave those comments to the guys who put stones in various places of their living room to improve the acoustic benifits of their home stereo.<<

    I would not feel so all alone; Everybody must get stoned!
     
  15. Babaji

    Babaji Member

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    ...Well now...Try it for yourself! One of the best comments to come out of a prior disscussion of this topic(directionality) was "Electrons don't give a S#it".
    Give it a try...Free vac cable+ 2 switchcraft ends + a little time. Judge it for yourself. I performed the experiment for an EE using his shop speaker cable (standard 16 guage zip wire), then, a monster cable, then a 4' and 16' vacume cable. He jumped out of his chair...At the difference!
    So...Don't trust what you read on the internet...Let your ears tell you.
    Invest $10 and a little time...Experiment. Oh...And my stereo system doesn't require any rock or stones of any kind, unless they're English!
    Bill
     
  16. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I just did... using the same instant-switching system I used to test this with signal cables. I tested a 20' Electrolux/Neutrik cable and a 3' Van Damme/Neutrik cable.

    There is NO difference.

    Speaker cables are not directional. If you heard a difference when you stopped playing, switched the cable round, then started again, it's because your playing was different, you were in a slightly different position relative to the speakers, or you just 'heard' a change because your memory of the first sound wasn't perfect.

    Try it for yourself with the same switching rig (I'm even considering making a couple more of these and making them available to people who want to conduct their own tests), and you'll be able to prove it to yourself too. I honestly didn't have a conclusive opinion on this before I built the switcher - I thought from physics theory that there would be no difference, but I didn't know for sure. Now I'm sure.


    I also find it funny that just because a highly-respected amp expert makes a speaker cable from an old vacuum cleaner power cord, this is then taken to somehow mean that vacuum cleaner power cords have some special property which makes them sound good as speaker cable. Actually what it means is that an old power cord of any description makes a good speaker cable - because it's the right specification, both electrically and physically robust (the most important property for a guitar amp speaker cord BTW), and doesn't cost anything apart from the plugs. It doesn't sound any different from any other cable of roughly the same electrical specification. I'm sure Ken Fischer built his for the same reason I did... it was a convenient piece of cable that he happened to have. Sadly, he won't be able to tell us now :(.
     
  17. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    Seems to me fridges or ACs or TVs would have more hours of use than a vacuum..
     
  18. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Well, vacuum cables are used because vacuums SUCK.

    ;)
     
  19. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Of course it does. While it was in service, the pattern of usage set up little microwelds between copper grains and so one way sucks and the other blows. That's the whole idea behind using these. You want to make sure the speaker polarity agrees with this.
     
  20. CPA

    CPA Member

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    As my dear friend once told me. Make sure it is heavily USED! The electrical current running through the cable CHANGES the molecular properties of the cable. It becomes one directional because the current is running one way to the moter.



    :AOK
     

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