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Frequently Asked Questions












About Our Company


The Cable Company is more than just the world´s leading retailer of specialty audio cables. Our real specialty is providing the best information available on all aspects of high performance audio, and, for our US customer, offering nearly every cable, powerline product, and resonance/acoustic product for in-home evaluation through our famous Library service.

Business hours are:
Monday through Friday
10am to 6pm
Saturday
11am to 5pm

Tel. toll free 800-FATWYRE
(215) 862-4870
Fax 215-862-4871
email: cable@thecableco.com

Address:
The Cable Company
125 Union Square
New Hope, PA 18938

To see photos of our location along with directions please click here!

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Orders and Pricing


How do I place an order?

Most of our customers have us consult with them about their system before placing an order. We have a consultation form for this purpose.

But if you already know what you want to order to can use the shopping cart in this website to order on-line, or you can order by email, fax (215-862-4871), or telephone (215-862-4871, 800-FATWYRE: 800-328-9973).

We accept all major credit cards, checks, Paypal, wire transfer, etc. Please contact us if you need further details about payment.

If you order using the shopping cart, at checkout you will be given three options to complete your order:

Express Checkout - Place Order Now

• If you know and love us, this is the fastest, easiest way to place your order.

The order form will automatically total the merchandise in your shopping cart using the manufacturer's retail prices listed on our website. However all on-line orders are reviewed, and then processed manually, at our offices in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and at this point we will deduct "Frequent Flyer" incentives, and add freight costs as appropriate and charge your credit card. One business day following your on-line order you will receive an email order confirmation from us detailing final charges, discounts, and freight.

Request Final Price

• If you need to know your final charges to the penny before confirming your order, place your order this way.

Using this check out option, the order form will automatically total the merchandise in your shopping cart using the manufacturer's retail prices listed on our website. However within one business day, before we actually process the order and charge your credit card, we will email to you a pro forma order confirmation including your "Frequent Flyer" incentives, freight costs. You can review this Final Price Quote, and then follow the steps noted on the Quote to complete your order.

Consult an Expert

• If you want a second opinion from a consultant about your proposed purchase before finalizing the order, place your order this way.

Using this check out option, the order form will total the merchandise in your shopping cart using the manufacturer's retail prices listed on our website. But we will also have you provide us relevant system information to allow a consultant to review your proposed purchase for appropriateness based on your components. The next business day, before we actually process the order and charge your credit card, you will be contacted by one of our consultants with their comments. At that point you will have the option to proceed with the order as previously submitted, or to modify the order.

How do I determine my actual purchase pricing?
Will I get a discount?


The Cable Company's "Frequent Flyer" Program of sliding discounts and freight incentives begins with purchases of only $100 domestically, or $300 internationally.
Domestic USA Frequent Flyer Program
International Frequent Flyer Program

I am looking for a specific product I don't see on your list; can I ask you to find it for me?

Yes, just contact us and tell us what you are looking for. Even with the thousands of product pages on this website we don't list everything we sell. If it is high end audio, chances are we can get it for you!

Can I order a single interconnect or speaker cable, rather than a pair?

When you choose to place an item in our shopping cart, it will automatically indicate quantity "1." In the case of terminated interconnects and speaker cables this will be one pair of cables. For single channel cables, eg. for center channel speakers, just change the quantity in the shopping cart to "0.5" and hit the "update" button for a single cable, not a pair. The pair price will be divided in half. Another example: you need 5 terminated cables for a surround sound system. Change the quantity in the shopping cart to "2.5" meaning 2.5 pairs.  Hit the "update" button and the system will make the price adjustment.

The information in this section only applies to terminated interconnects and speaker cables. It does not apply to other cable types, which are sold singly, or to bulk cable.

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Freight Costs and Return Policy


How much will it cost to ship my order?

Freight costs will be applied to your on-line and other orders using these guidelines:

Within the continental USA we offer FREE surface freight for terminated cables (unterminated bulk cable not included) and small item purchases over $50. For expedited freight, orders under $50, and non- terminated cable purchases weighing more than 5 lbs., freight costs will be calculated using this schedule:

        * UPS/Fedex standard surface or USPS: first pound, $4.99,
        * each additional pound, $1.25
        * UPS/FedEx 3 day air: first pound, $12.95, each additional pound, $1.95
        * UPS/FedEx 2 day air: first pound, $15.95, each additional pound, $2.25
        * UPS/FedEx next day air: first pound, $25.95, each additional pound, $3.75

Express Mail will be calculated at the same rates as UPS/FedEx 2 day air (above).

For shipments to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico only US Priority Mail, Express Mail, 2 Day and Next Day services are available.  Add $3.99 to any of the above rates to determine the freight cost for these shipments.



International: Overseas customers can take full advantage of the service (except for Cable Library home trials). We offer free airmail for NEW terminated cables  (unterminated bulk cable not included) and small item purchases over $300, or $38-48 flat charge for faster UPS, FedEx, or Express Mail EMS service depending on where in the world we are shipping. For international orders under $300, bulk unterminated cables, heavier orders, or USED items, freight costs will be calculated using this schedule:

•US Mail to Canada: $14.85 first pound + $2.95 for each additional pound (1kg=2.2 lb.)

•Other International Airmail: $14.85 first pound + $5.95 for each additional pound

•FedEx/UPS Air Courier (W.Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico): $38 first pound + $4.95 for each additional pound

•FedEx/UPS Air Courier (E. Europe, Africa, South America): $48 first pound + $6.95 for each additional pound.

Express Mail EMS will be calculated at the same rates as Air Courier services (above).

For a specific freight quote before confirming your on-line order, just choose the ordering option: "Request Final Price Quote." For more information on our ordering options click here

 

Is my export order subject to taxes and duties?

There are no U.S. taxes or duties for purchases made by our International customers. In fact, we are only required to collect a 6% taxes from our customers that take delivery of their orders in our home state of Pennsylvania.

What is your return policy?

Here is our return policy - we feel that it is one of the strongest in the Industry. All products, except for vacuum tubes and fuses, purchased from our company will be repaired or replaced at our option should they malfunction under normal use within one year of purchase. For new products with manufacturer warranties longer than a year, products should be returned to us for warranty repair or replacement. We will interface for you with the manufacturer. In addition, with the exception of custom orders, bulk unterminated cables, vacuum tubes, and fuses, all of which are not returnable under this policy, we offer a 30 day full value exchange policy for purchases including used products should you be unhappy with your purchase for any reason. In this case the merchandise must be returned in original purchase condition including packaging. The full purchase price of the merchandise (not including freight) will be applied to any purchase of equal or greater value. The customer is responsible for the cost of round trip shipping in the case of all returns.

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Cables


What is the best cable for my system? / What is cable matching?

There is no one cable that is right for every system. It is the interaction of the cables with the active components which will make them better or worse for a particular system. A better cable match will leave the active components operating better, at a higher level, closer to their design ideals. When this happens, assuming well-designed components, the sound should be better in every respect: more extension at both frequency extremes, better imaging and transparency, better dynamics, more resolution of inner detail, etc.

Remember that cables do not have sound; they only interact with the components which do have sound. Think about cable matching as completing a circuit, for example preamp + interconnect + amp is a circuit. Amp + speaker cable + speaker is another circuit. A good cable choice is one which allows the circuit to function optimally, and therefore the components to perform the way they are designed to perform.

All one brand?

It is more important that the cables match up well with the components hung on either end, but staying with the same brand through the system avoids the potential for unfavorable cable interactions. If you are trying cables out, however, make this decision by ear.

Our cable matching database, which is feedback from customer evaluations (from our Cable Company's "Cable Library" service) on a component specific basis, points toward certain cables as closest to optimal for specific components. In short, these will help the components in your system to operate at a higher level, which should result in better sound in every respect.

As you move up in each of these manufacturer's lines you are getting better materials and more complex geometries, all within a set of common electrical characteristics. The result is more detail and transparency, reduction of "grain," and a better sense of imaging and space between the instruments.

Do high performance speaker cables need to be garden-hose size?

When it comes to audio cable design, there are many ways to "skin the cat." Some of the best designs are both thick and inflexible, but others are shoelace-sized, very flexible, and still deliver prodigious amounts of bass. Size is NOT the most important factor in getting good sound.

Are shorter cables better?

There are as many opinions on this topic as there are anywhere in audio. You should get cables that meet your connection requirements. NO audio cable should be less than 1/2 M, for placement flexibility if for no other reason.

What is the shortest length for digital RCA (SPDIF) cables?

With coaxial digital cables ideally the minimum length will be at least 1 meter. In shorter lengths internal "reflections" can develop, which will increase jitter. Some manufacturers actually prefer the 1.5m length as more "ideal," but in our experience you are generally safe with 1m.

Is it better to use shorter speaker cables and longer interconnects or vice versa?

This is another area that has no hard and fast rule. As a guideline, with XLR interconnects, performance would almost always be better using longer interconnects and shorter speaker cables. With RCA interconnects, the guideline is to try and keep the maximum interconnect length to 3M (10 feet), and use longer speaker cables if necessary. There are some specialty cables, like the Cyberlight cables from Harmonic Technology that allow the use of almost unlimited length of RCA interconnects with no adverse effects.

What kind of speaker cable terminations are suitable for my hi-fi?

Most components can use spades or bananas, however some products must have one or the other. If your components accept both we generally recommend spades as you can manually tighten down on these to ensure good contact.

Is coax digital (SPDIF) better than Toslink?

Prior to the DVD "boom", the answer was almost always yes, coax is a better performer. That changed when DVD players started using better chassis connectors for Toslink cables, and now the answer is not nearly as clear cut. Toslink performance is highly dependent on how well the connectors of the cable fit the connectors on the chassis of the component(s) - the tighter the fit (which allows less light to interact with the data), the better the performance. So these days generally alright to go for Toslink, but keep in mind that the more expensive Toslink cables using glass, rather than plastic, optical fibers will give you better performance.

Why are some cables sold in feet and others in meters from the same manufacturer?

There is no logical reason for this apparent discrepancy, but generally, speaker cables and power cords are sold and measured in feet, while interconnects and video cables have made the transition to the metric system. Some companies use metric measurements for all of their cables.

Do audio cables wear out?

As long as they are properly terminated in the first place, audio cables, which have no moving parts, will last indefinitely. However cables without proper terminations, to "seal" the conductors from the air to avoid corrosion, will indeed corrode over time. In the case of copper conductors this means going from a good conductor (copper) to a poor conductor (copper oxide), and the performance of the cable will substantially deteriorate. Silver Oxide is a good conductor, so this issue is somewhat less important in the case of silver conductor cables.

Why do power cords matter?

Think of the AC cables as being an extension of the power supply in the components. In addition to it's role as a passive filter of line noise, the AC cable should shield your component from RFI and EMI which could be picked up by the AC cable working as an antenna, and also preventing the component itself from emitting EMI and RFI through the AC cable. We do find AC cables in general to be among the more cost effective upgrades you can make to high end audio electronics.

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Borrowing Cables from "The Cable Library"


Try in your own home!

How to Evaluate Cables, Headphones, Line Conditioners and More:  The Cable Library:

For our US- based customers we operate The Cable Library service offering home trial on over 60 brands of cables as well as other products including Headphones, Line Conditioners, Isolation Devices and more. In all it is more that $2.5 million worth of products. Feedback from Library users drives our cable/component matching database. We can tell you what cables (and other products) other audiophiles with your components have found to work best, and help you to short list the best products to borrow for testing in YOUR system.

We are unique because we carry almost every cable. We are an unbiased source for good advice. Our US customers can borrow a group of cables and/or other products from The Cable Library for a period of approximately 2 weeks. Given shipping times this should leave the products actually in your hands for evaluation for approximately 7 to 10 days, including 2 weekends.

(International customers click here)

A deposit equal to 5% of the value of the products you are borrowing will be charged to the your credit card when we ship the products to you. This deposit is not refundable, but will be applied in full against purchases (cable or non-cable products) from The Cable Company, Usedcable.com, or our Ultra Systems affiliate.

While The Cable Company will pay domestic surface shipping charges on all headphone-related purchases over $50 of terminated cables (and audio accessories up to 5 lbs.), shipping charges for products borrowed from The Library must be paid by the customer (we will endeavor to minimize charges by making use of the least expensive UPS or FEDEX service which allows the consumer to take full advantage of the demonstration period).

A notice will be included with the shipment of borrowed products stating the date they should be shipped back to The Cable Company. The customer should contact The Cable Company at least 2 days before this return date to confirm use of the prepaid return label, or so that The Cable Company can issue the necessary  “call tag” for pick-up. Use of the return label or call tag saves the consumer having to deal directly with UPS or FEDEX. Nice!

While credit card, Paypal, check, or money order may be used to purchase products, access to The Library is by credit card only.

The Cable Library generally provides standard lengths of 1-1.5 meters (3-5ft) for interconnects, 2.5-3 meters (8-10ft) for speaker cables, 1 meter (3ft) for digital links and video cables, and 1.5-2 meters (5-6ft) for power cords.

Click here for a system consultation to begin the home trial process.

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Power Line Conditioners


Why are there so many power conditioners?

There are many ways to provide better power for an audio or video system based on sound electrical engineering theories. Just as there is no one single cable that sounds great in every system, there is no one power conditioner that is best for every audio/video system. Issues ranging from the required number of outlets to the quality of the AC service with respect to voltage fluctuations and line noise are all important in choosing the right power line conditioner.

(One of the best, and most cost-effective, ways to enhance any system's performance is to have a dedicated AC circuit installed for the system.)

The engineering and complexity of line conditioners varies widely. There are AC regenerators, balanced power, parallel filters, isolation transformers, voltage regulators, and other designs that all have merit, but remember, that these general categories of line conditioners all have pros and cons, other than price. The consultants at The Cable Company all have extensive experience and we have a large selection of power conditioners in our lending library, so we can help you find the conditioner that fits your needs. In terms of pricing, good filters begin at less than $500 (although there is also plenty of junk under $500), while state-of-the-art products start at $1200, with most costing over $2000.

What is a parallel line conditioner?

These devices incorporate capacitors or noise-absorbing materials connected in parallel across the power line to reduce noise reaching the equipment without imposing any inductive, maximum-current choking coils or inductors in the line. There are a variety of parallel type filters available from a number of companies - some that work on adjacent circuits and some that work directly on the audio/video system's AC circuit. When correctly designed, this type of filter can dramatically improve (especially) digital and analog playback quality. Digital processing and playback is extremely sensitive to power line noise, probably due to the effect of noise on digital timing jitter.

If I have a dedicated 20amp line, do I need a line filter? If I have a line filter, do I need high end AC cables?

In a word, yes! What we find is that as you enhance your AC environment this effectively "raises the bar" with respect to other AC enhancement products. Furthermore your components themselves are dumping noise onto the line and polluting each other. Inter-component isolation is a big deal!

With a dedicated line and a high quality filter the importance of a good AC cable will be more apparent, not less important. Prove it to yourself via our Library service.

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System Upgrade Priorities


What are the factors that affect the sound reproduction in my room?

The quality of the sound that you hear from your system is affected by the following variables:

1. Quality of equipment
2. Room acoustics
3. Cables
4. Quality of AC
5. Vibration/resonance control

There has been plenty of debate in audio circles for many years regarding the relative importance of each of these factors (i.e.- the order in which they should be addressed), but every one of them play vitally important roles in the quality of sound that you hear from your system. Some audio lovers swap equipment in a never-ending cycle trying to improve the system sound without ever achieving their goal because they pay little attention to anything other than the equipment. This is a very expensive and frustrating mistake that is avoidable by working with a knowledgeable and skilled audio consultant, and addressing each of these factors one at a time.

Can you make recommendations for system setup and acoustic treatment for my listening room?

Definitely. One of our core specialties. To get started it would be helpful if you could mail (125 Union Square, New Hope, PA 18938 USA) or fax (215-862-4871), or attach to an email, a basic room diagram with the position of components and furnishings noted. If you have not already provided us with your component list, be sure to send that as well.

We don't need something with measurements to the millimeter; but do give us the important details.

Why bother with component isolation?

To better understand this subject, you need to understand a little bit of physics as it applies to audio/video playback. Everything in audio (and video) is vibrating, starting with the signal moving down the wire. Components in the playback system generate a certain amount of internal vibration, whether through mechanical motion (like a disk player), or the vibrational effect of power being passed through a transformer as in almost every other type of component. These micro-vibrations cause the component to lose some of the designed-in resolution. The more effectively these vibrations can be eliminated or transferred elsewhere, the better the sound and video quality of the playback system will be.

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Other


Do you have a vacuum tube list?

Some of our favorite current production vacuum tubes, as well as our favorite 6DJ8/6922 NOS replacement tube, are included in our product listings on this site under the Vacuum Tube heading. But for the rest of the NOS (new old stock) universe, availability is too variable for us publish a comprehensive listing. If you need tubes, tell us about your components (you can use our Consultation Form if you wish). We will make recommendations from among the available supplies of good-testing NOS and new production tubes.

Do you also sell components?

The Cable Company does sell some components, but most of our "hardware" activities are handled by our affiliate company, Ultra Systems, which sells a broad range of high performance components including ASR, Arcam, BAT, Birdland Audio, Bluenote, CAT, Clearaudio, Denon, EAR, Esoteric, Fanfare FM, Harmonic Resolution Systems "HRS", Hyperion, Lamm, Lector, Lexicon, MBL, Merlin, NAD, NuForce, PSB, Rega, Reference 3a, Revel, Rogue, Triad, VPI, and many more. You can click here to visit Ultra Systems, or speak with your Cable Company consultant. We all wear an Ultra Systems hat as well!

What is the Summer Against Hunger charity?

Each August our Summer Against Hunger fundraiser supports the relief and development efforts of the CARE. The fundraiser is organized to leverage our Cable Company (and Usedcable.com) efforts by getting matching funds (matching our 5% donation of all sales) from our vendors for our sales of their products. We further leverage up the overall contributions through other matching funds programs. Typically with all funding matches considered, between $.50 and $1.00 for each $1.00 spent with our company in August of each year ends up "on the ground" helping the poorest people in the most ravaged regions of the world with basic human needs like food, shelter, clean water, and medical attention.

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