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Thread: A good use for old Cat5!

  1. #1
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default A good use for old Cat5!

    Good afternoon everyone!

    I'm way too happy for a Thursday afternoon, but I have a good excuse. As I sat in my office today, listening to music while I work (as I often do.. and I'm sure you do too), I realized how I wasnt quite happy with the sound in my office.

    Since I have good speakers, an amazing amp, and loads of high quality tunes (most of my collection is lossless, the rest is CD), I thought "this music should sound better".

    Keep in mind that old phrase, GIGO.. "Garbage in, Garbage out". While not exactly garbage, my interconnects and speaker wire certainly left lots to be desired.

    I ended up making new speaker wires, using 6 strands of Cat5 that I salvaged from another building.



    Materials:
    6 lengths of Cat5 cable, any length you want
    2 sets Banana plugs
    Some electrical tape (or zip ties)
    Heat shrink tubing
    wire cutters
    wire strippers
    heat source (heat gun, lighter, etc)
    PATIENCE


    Here we go.....


    1. Make sure all 6 pieces of Cat5 are the same length
    2. Using the electrical tape, connect 3 pieces together at one end, leaving about 6-8" of wire at the end before the tape.
    3. Braid the 3 together. Once you reach the other end, tape them together 6-8" from the end of the wires.

    Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the last 3 pieces of Cat5.

    4. Remove the sleeve from the Cat5, exposing all of the twisted pairs of wire. Untwist them all, and group all of the solid colors together in one group, and all of the striped colors together in another group.

    5. Strip approx. 2" of shielding from ALL of the wires. Once they are all stripped, twist them together tightly. (Colors together, stripes together)

    6. Using the heat shrink tubing, separate the two groups of wires (colors and stripes) and insulate them to prevent shorting against each other.

    7. Attach the banana plugs to the wires, and tighten the connectors until they are solid. (I also put heat shrink over the banana plugs to ensure they donít come loose)

    8. Plug in and enjoy!!!!!

    The difference in sound from my system is STARTLING. I am absolutely floored that such a simple thing as speaker wire could make such a huge difference. Imaging is better, clarity is better, thereís cleaner highs, and waaaay more bass.

    Iím working on some custom interconnects next, I hope to have them done tomorrow sometime, and hopefully have the tut posted on here early next week.

    **NOTE: Make sure you check your work carefully throughout this, as you can potentially destroy your amp if you manage to short the wires. You can use a continuity tester if you are unsure!!! Also, you may find yourself wanting to play music louder than normal with these wires.. DONíT GET FIRED from your job.. itís not my fault if you do! **

    Now I should point out that I work in a remote corner of the building, away from most of the other staff.. the offices around me are all part timers, and I'm right behind the main boardroom and storage rooms. Sufficiently isolated to play music throughout the day at slightly higher than typical office volumes. Today though, Iíve had a few people stop in to see whatís up.. and they were all amazed with the difference in sound.

    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

    R9 290X+Kraken+Corsair H90, Xeon 5649@4ghz, Asus P6T-WS Pro

  2. #2
    Strip it, paint it, and love on it... Commando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    Awesome,

    Good speaker wire is ridiculously expensive. + Rep

  3. #3
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    I'm gonna put this up against some monster cables tonight, and this weekend I'll try to get it tested against some Kimbers... nothing like beating $500+ speaker wire with old Cat5.

    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

    R9 290X+Kraken+Corsair H90, Xeon 5649@4ghz, Asus P6T-WS Pro

  4. #4
    t3h f3cKiN 33Ji7 calumc's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    original, +rep
    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy Buddhist View Post
    I'm starting to worry that I may become genuinely funny at some point. Then there will be no hope.

  5. #5
    . Spawn-Inc's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    my brother did something similar but only used 1 cable and some make and female plugs. i'm not sure if it was for speakers though and if it was it was only for signal not hooked directly to the speakers. he ex girlfriend's dogs likes wires so she can't have full surround sound with the stock length wires. so he got some cat5 and made them (the rear speakers) detachable.

    cool idea though +rep.
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  6. #6
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    *update*

    After playing these wires for several hours last night, and 2 hours so far today, I'm still in love with them. Apparently, Cat5 speaker wire takes some time to "break in" before it sounds *REALLY* good. (Audio guys are a little nuts I think..)

    Anyways, I'm still playing them now, and currently fighting someone on Ebay for some killer speakers.

    Oh also, I'm going to try building the interconnects next to spiff up the signal from the pre-amp to the amp.

    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

    R9 290X+Kraken+Corsair H90, Xeon 5649@4ghz, Asus P6T-WS Pro

  7. #7
    Like a Lightning Bolt in Your Cheerios! Drum Thumper's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    How'd they compare to the Monster Cables?
    Quote Originally Posted by artoodeeto View Post
    aw heck guys. We're modders. Let's just build our own, shall we?

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  8. #8
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    Hands down winners over the Monster Cable (Big-100) speaker wire.

    Bass was deeper and louder, highs were clearer, and the whole soundstage was wider.

    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

    R9 290X+Kraken+Corsair H90, Xeon 5649@4ghz, Asus P6T-WS Pro

  9. #9
    Religiously tolerant. Luke122's Avatar
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    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    *update*

    Missed out on the speakers on Ebay.. dammit.. someone put a proxy bid of $350 USD. I only went to $150 USD, then stopped.. I could probably build those speakers for less than that.

    Interconnects will be built tomorrow when I get home from the inlaws house, and I'm going to try and sketchup the speaks myself too.. maybe I'll just build them.

    \m/ d(-_-)b \m/

    R9 290X+Kraken+Corsair H90, Xeon 5649@4ghz, Asus P6T-WS Pro

  10. #10

    Default Re: A good use for old Cat5!

    I pulled a spool of old CAT5 out of the garbage. This is a great idea. You stated you went with 6 strands... would it matter how many based on amps?

    Does anyone know if CAT5 can be used to replace phone wiring? I'd like to re-wire my entire house with the stuff.

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