Cable FAQ

Here are some questions we been asked about Vivid Audio cables. Many of these questions come directly from curious visitors attending the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2004 in Denver CO. If you have a question regarding Vivid cables please feel free to contact us. We're happy to help.

  1. Cotton insulation and gold wire are kind of unusual for a Hi-Fi cable aren't they?
  2. Vivid Audio cotton covered cables look kind of soft and cuddly. Are they as robust and durable as some of the thick, black, shiny cables on the market with Kevlar and Teflon covers?
  3. OK, cotton works, and feels good, but isn't Teflon better?
  4. Gold is not as good a conductor of electricity as either copper or silver. How can it sound better?
  5. Does Vivid sell direct or through local Hi-Fi dealers?
  6. How can I try some Vivid cables?
  7. Do you have a trial period for cables?
  8. Will one pair of cables make a difference?
  9. Are Vivid Audio products available on eBay or Audiogon?
  10. You say Vivid cables are made in the USA. Are they really?
  11. You say your conductors are gold or silver. Are they solid gold and solid silver or just copper with precious metal plating?
  12. What purity is the gold and silver you use?
  13. Can you hear a difference between gold of various purities, and between various silver wires?
  14. What's all this talk about wire directionality? You're joking, right?
  15. Of what significance is the color of the shrink tubing on Vivid cables. How do I know which is left and which is right?
  16. You make little mention of the actual geometry of the wires in Vivid cable. Why is that?
  17. I've read of "burning in" audio cables. What is the purpose of burning in and will I need to burn in Vivid Audio cables when I receive them?
  18. What RCA plug does Vivid use?
  19. Do you offer a balanced interconnect?
  20. I noticed you don't terminate you speaker cables. Why?
  21. My speakers are equipped with two sets of binding posts. I don't want to bi-wire, bi-amp or use the stock brass jumpers. Do you offer a pure silver jumper to connect the two sets of post?
  22. I'm a firm believer in Bi-Wiring my speakers. Can I use Vivid Flat or Vivid Round in a Bi-Wire system?
  23. Do you offer a pure gold speaker wire?
  24. Does Vivid Audio offer a power cable?
  25. Does Vivid Audio offer any "pro" cables, such as mic cables etc?
  26. Shouldn't all audio cables have a shield?
Q. Cotton insulation and gold wire are kind of unusual for a Hi-Fi cable aren't they?
A. Yes, they are. We started experimenting with silver wire almost twenty years ago, and its sonic superiority over even the best copper was readily apparent. Then a decade ago, we began experimenting with various gold alloys, platinum, palladium etc., etc., and found pure gold to be sonically superior. The use of cotton as an electrical insulator goes back to the earliest days of electricity and cotton has been used in all sorts of electrical applications such as knob and tube home wiring and as hook-up wire in early radios. We began using cotton, with pure silver or gold wire, about 2 years ago because of its natural damping qualities, its super-low dielectric constant and because it sounds so great.
Q. Vivid Audio cotton covered cables look kind of soft and cuddly. Are they as robust and durable as some of the thick, black, shiny cables on the market with Kevlar and Teflon covers?
A. No, probably not. In fact, we encourage you to treat Vivid cables as if they were fine, delicate musical instruments. They really are soft and cuddly. If you can resist the temptation to fold, spindle, mutilate, or kink them they will provide years of musical bliss in your system. They will sound so good you will simply forget they are there.
Q. OK, cotton works, and feels good, but isn't Teflon better?
A. Good question. We use cotton because it actually works great as an electrical insulator without storing a charge like synthetics do. Even Teflon, touted as having a low dielectric constant of between 2.4 to 2.8, can't compete with cotton, which measures around 1.4 (air is 1.0). Many audiophiles have noticed Teflon imparts a characteristic tonality to the music. Cotton does not color the sound in any way. Remember, your music feels good in cotton!
Q. Gold is not as good a conductor of electricity as either copper or silver. How can it sound better?
A. Simply put, sound quality is not dependent on conductivity, or DC Resistance.
Q. Do you sell direct or through local hifi dealers?
A. We have recently, (summer of '06) returned to direct-only sales. This means a. that you can order directly from us, at Earthshaking Music Inc., (parent company of Vivid Audio), and, b., more importantly, the prices on Vivid cables has been cut dramatically, in some cases by as much as 50%.

Trial period: we are confident you will love Vivid Audio cables in your system and we offer, for US customers, a 2 week, No-Risk, in-home trial period.
Q. How can I try some Vivid cables?
A. It's easy. Go to the Vivid web page for the cables you want (speaker or interconnect) and simply click buy it now. You will see a new window open on the Earthshaking Music web site with all the different cables to choose from (Earthshaking is the parent company, and home of, Vivid Audio). Pick the one(s) you want and check out.
Q. Do you have a trial period for cables?
A. Yes. You may purchase our cables and try them in your system at home for 2 weeks from the date you receive them. If you want to return them just let us know and we will call-tag them (we pay return shipping). You will receive a full refund, less shipping charges. Please be sure to return the cables in new condition with all packaging and literature or we will charge a nominal restocking fee.
Q. Will one pair of cables make a difference?
A. Yes, a single pair of cables, especially in low signal applications, such as from your turntable or cd player to the next component, will make an audible improvement in your system. To really hear a dramatic improvement in soundstage width, depth, overall clarity and musicality, we offer cable packages, which will sound simply amazing and save you money.
Q. Are Vivid Audio products available on eBay or Audiogon?
A. No. New Vivid Audio products should not be sold on ebay or any other auction website, though we advertise on these sites. Of course, there are no restrictions on the sale of used Vivid Audio products. But once you've heard Vivid cables, why would you ever want to part with them?
Q. You say Vivid cables are made in the USA. Are they really?
A. Yes, we source our cotton braid from a US manufacturer, our Vivid Flat cotton speaker cable jackets are sewn by hand in GA. The Eichmann plugs come from Australia. Our pure gold, silver and copper wire is sourced from US wire companies. We design, assemble, solder and test all Vivid cables in our facility in Atlanta, GA.
Q. You say your conductors are gold or silver. Are they solid gold and solid silver or just copper with precious metal plating?
A. When we say gold, we are referring to a solid, 24 carat, gold wire. Not gold plated. When we say silver, we are referring to a solid silver wire, not a silver plated wire. We do not use any plated wire in Vivid Audio cables for sonic reasons. Some manufacturers use silver plating to protect the copper from the extremely high heat used in the Teflon coating process. Neither silver plating nor Teflon sound good to us.
Q. What purity is the gold and silver you use?
A. With regard to Vivid Silver we specify that it is "Fine" silver, or 99.9% or better, as we feel other factors are equal to or more important than purity. And, we are constantly experimenting with new wires of various purities. For Vivid Gold, we specify gold purity by carat. All Vivid Gold products use 24-karat solid gold wire. In December of 2005, we streamlined our product line and discontinued all Vivid Gold products which used 18-karat solid gold wire. A few 18 carat ICs are still available at substantial discount. Visit the Earthshaking Music website to see our remaining stock.
Q. Can you hear a difference between gold of various purities, and between various silver wires?
A. Yes, absolutely. In a high-resolution hi-fi system many small, seemingly insignificant changes produce audible differences. Some changes are clearly better or worse, some are just different. 24 carat gold is clearly better (and more expensive) than any low-grade alloys.
Q. What's all this talk about wire directionality? You're joking, right?
A. Anyone who insists that wire direction has no clearly audible effect simply has not taken the time to test it, or they wish to remain ignorant of the truth. Please note that I'm talking about a single wire, not multiple strands, braids or complex wire matrices. Multiple strand configurations consist of signal carrying wires running in both directions (relative to how the wire emerged from the die) with the net result of smoothing or canceling the true directional nature of the wire. We carefully assess, by ear, the correct direction of the raw strand of wire prior to constructing Vivid cables.
Q. Of what significance is the color of the shrink tubing on Vivid cables. How do I know which is left and which is right?
A. Good question- in general, an interconnect set with Green and Blue ends is made with fine silver wire. You may use either as your left or right. A set of interconnects with Purple and Orange shrink is made with gold wire. They are also interchangeable left or right. Please note that inside the shrink tubing on both Gold and Silver products is either a Red or Black RCA plug. The Red interior end is always the source end. This applies whether your component is phase inverting or not, and also for digital cables.

Vivid Round speaker cables use red and blue shrink- with the red end indicating the source or amp end and the blue end indicating the speaker end. Inside the Vivid Round you will find a pure silver wire and a tinned, stranded copper wire. The silver wire is the Hot, or signal carrying wire and should be connected to the "+" terminal on your amp. The copper wire is the Ground wire and should be connected to the "-" terminal on your amp. This ensures that you are connecting the cable in the correct direction with the silver wire carrying the signal. The Ground wire does not carry signal.

Note: IF your system inverts phase, you may correct for this at the speaker end (only) simply by switching the silver wire to the (-) post and the copper wire to the (+) post.

Vivid Flat speaker cables use pure silver for both Hot and Ground and they are clearly labeled as to direction and polarity. The red banded conductor denotes the hot (+) side. A double red band on the silver denotes the source and hot (+) side. Contact us if you have any questions or observations regarding the use of your Vivid cables.
Q. You make little mention of the actual geometry of the wires in Vivid cable. Why is that?
A. Our tests have shown complex braids, helixes, stars, spirals etc. to be far less significant, sonically, than the nature and direction of the raw wire, and the nature of the insulation used to cover the wire. The only exception to this is Vivid Flat speaker cable, which uses two parallel flat ribbons of pure silver held in a carefully fitted, proprietary, cotton jacket.
Q. I've read of "burning in" audio cables. What is the purpose of burning in and will I need to burn in Vivid Audio cables when I receive them?
A. Burning in a cable simply means running a signal through it for a period of time. We have found that cables, particularly silver, change for the better over the first several days of use, yielding a smoother middle and top as well as more openness in the sound stage. We recommend that you burn-in all cables with music only. We do not use accelerated cable burning devices on any Vivid products.
Q. What RCA plug does Vivid use?
A. We currently use the Eichmann plugs in both silver and copper. The silvers sound better but cost a lot more, so we only use them on our Vivid Gold line. We can provide them on Vivid Silver at an additional charge. Please inquire for more info and pricing.
Q. Do you offer a balanced interconnect?
A. Yes we do. We offer pure, solid silver and 24 carat solid gold versions. We use Vampire XLR connectors.
Q. I noticed you don't terminate you speaker cables. Why?
A. Terminations color the sound. Our cables work nicely with most binding posts available as-is. Please contact us if you are concerned about your particular situation. We can terminate on request.
Q. My speakers are equipped with two sets of binding posts. I don't want to bi-wire, bi-amp or use the stock brass jumpers. Do you offer a pure silver jumper to connect the two sets of post?
A. Yes, we can provide jumpers in either Vivid Round or Vivid Flat silver at a nominal charge for speakers with more than a few inches between posts. Please be aware that in many cases the wires of our cables can be pulled out of the cotton cover an extra inch or so and can be used to bridge both posts. We feel this to be a simple and elegant solution to this situation.
Q. I'm a firm believer in Bi-Wiring my speakers. Can I use Vivid Flat or Vivid Round in a Bi-Wire system?
A. Yes, both of our speaker cables work nicely in Bi-Wire configurations. Let us know in advance and we can solder the amp end of the speaker cables together for your convenience at no extra charge.
Q. Do you offer a pure gold speaker wire?
A. Gold speaker cable is available by special order. We welcome any inquires regarding this product.
Q. Does Vivid Audio offer a power cable?
A. Not at this time.
Q. Does Vivid Audio offer any "pro" cables, such as mic cables etc?
A. Yes and No. One of our Balanced interconnects, if made long enough, can be used as a mic cable, but as it has no shield it may prove susceptible to RFI/EMI in the studio environment.

Vivid Audio Gold and Silver interconnects and Flat or Round speaker cables are studio-ready.
Q. Shouldn't all audio cables have a shield?
A. Most cables in most situations don't need to be shielded. Shielding creates its own set of problems such as microphonic noise, increased capacitance and much greater cable stiffness. Here in the heart of Atlanta, GA, we are using a long pair of Vivid Gold 24ct analog interconnects, with no shielding whatsoever, between a Sumiko Blackbird phono cartridge (3mv output) and our phono pre. We have no EM and no RF interference at all. Line level and speaker cables need shielding even less.