Following our recent distribution deal with Jantzen Audio, we have been struck by how incredibly popular their range of speaker cables are. These relatively low cost cables are composed of very high purity OFC copper solid core wire. There are three versions of the cable, a thinner AWG20 (0.81mm diameter) for low powered amp high efficiency speakers, the thicker AWG17 (1.15mm diameter) version for standard combination and a bi-wireable version using a mix of both wire sizes (as shown in the main picture).
After all the positive feedback we have received we had to make some up for ourselves and what better way than to put a kit together. To illustrate the amazing effectiveness of cable changing and to make it more tangible we have gone solderless. So no soldering required on these cables, though you might need a hair drier to shrink the heatshrink.
We are using the gold plated 4mm banana plugs with twin screw fixing. These offer super contact when inserted into a binding posts. They come with black and red plastic covers that screw onto the body of the banana plug. see HERE for more information. However our preference is not to use these and opt for heatshrink. The most vunerable point of any cable is the join with the banana post so the use of heatshrink wraps up the connection point tightly and offers structural support.
So with the the Glasshouse speaker cable kit no.4 we are offering a kit using the 2x AWG 20 or the 2x AWG 17 or the bi-wire 2x AWG17 + 2x AWG20 speaker cables.
Kit contents: (For a 2m Pair AWG 17)
4 Meters Jantzen Audio 2x AWG17 speaker cable.
8x Gold plated 4mm banana plugs, twin screw fixing.
50cm each of: 2.4mm, 3.2mm, 4.8mm and 9.5mm red and black heat-shrink.
The first job is to cut the sleeving back 13cm from the end. Do this carefully with a Stanley knife around the outer sleeving in a circle, bending the wire as you go to open the cut. Once you have cut through it, the sleeving will pull off in one go rather than having to cut down the length of it.
Then strip the cable ends: 15mm for AWG 17 wires, and 30mm for AWG 20 wires to allow you to double the end over and get a secure fixing with the screws. If you are making a bi-wire cable, you will need to cut off 15mm of the thicker wires, and then strip 15mm of sleeving off, so the banana plugs all end up at the same length. (See work in progress image 1 - below)
Then cut the heat-shrink to length: We have devised this method of layering up heat-shrink on the wires to support them at the weakest point - when entering the banana plug. You need to first cut one 50mm long piece of 9.5mm and slide it over the wires, this will tidy up where you have cut the blue sleeving back - you can make one end black and one red, to mark the amplifier & speaker ends.
You can now begin to bulk out the wire with the heatshrink to strengthen it, this is done in several layers depending on the original wire size. These should each be cut 24mm long, put over the wire right up to the bare copper end, and shrunk-down with a heatgun individually, before sleeving with the next one. The heat-shrink will narrow so much that it allows you to put another piece of the same diameter over the top.
The order of fit of the heat-shrink is as follows:
For AWG17 wire: 1x 2.4mm, followed by 2x 3.2mm and 1x 4.8mm
For AWG20 wire: 2x 2.4mm, followed by 2x 3.2mm and 1x 4.8mm
Once this process is complete, you can attatch the banana plugs, tightening the screw at the banana end of the socket first, then the one closest to the heat-shrink. Then cut a piece of 9.5mm heat-shrink 48mm long and cover the banana plug and all the previous heat-shrink. (See work in progress images 2 & 3 - below)
How does it sound?
We tested the baby of the range, the Awg20 cable, which is designed for low power applications and there is no doubt that this cable punches above its weight. The Glasshouse Speaker Cable No.4 has a very natural tone, is very well balanced and does not suffer from the colouration that some 'off the shelf' copper cables suffer from at this end of the market. Vocals are open, and along with the higher notes have a nice clarity. Comparing it to the kit No.3 with some silver wire added in for extra lush-vocals (at getting on for 10x the cost) the Jantzen cable does lack some separation and sound-stage, as well as authority in those gritty bass notes, but this made it a very pleasant and relaxing listen by comparison.