Loom Theory: Are you a believer?

Another heated debate among audio enthusiasts is whether they subscribe to the “loom theory.”  Loom Theory basically says that your system will sound better if all of the cables are from the same manufacturer.  Is this something promoted by manufacturers to increase brand loyalty?  Or is there a real difference in sound when keeping like with like?  Here’s what some of our users had to say about their experiences.

Rja: I’m not sure it’s “loom theory” as much as “loom speculation.”  I’m sure you can get great sound that way but I know from experience that it can also be achieved by mixing and matching brands. So where does that leave the “loom theory”? Pretty meaningless in my opinion.

Onhwy61: If there really was something to the loom thing, then why doesn’t it apply to the rest of our systems? Why not have all our components from one manufacturer and reap all that synergy stuff. Now if the objection to that is something along the lines that no single manufacturer has the expertise to make entire systems, then what makes you think an interconnect maker knows how to design a digital cable or even a power cord? Just because they look similar does not mean they are they operate the same.

Gpgr4blu: Having experimented with numerous cables for years (Tara, Kimber, Stealth, Nordost, Shunyata, Audioquest and others) as mix and match and otherwise, I am a firm believer in the loom theory. Every cable has a character. Some provide better leading edge, some better tone, some lusher mids, some fuller bass, others more impactful bass, etc. As there is no perfectly neutral component, there is no perfect cable. Among the above brands, there are no slackers and none with any major weaknesses that I’ve heard. But for my system, there was one that I preferred as a complement to the sound of my components. Whenever I inject another brand in the mix it interferes with the overall sound that I’m after.

Now — if a source component needs a boost in one area or a little bit of tempering on another (e.g.-high end too brittle or too prominent), I have, in the past, put the appropriate cable in that spot. But for me the better solution is to gather the components that best provide the sound you seek and then wire the system with a loom that does no harm to or complements that sound. This goes for cables. I have not experimented with power cords in the same way so I cannot say that they form an essential part of the loom.  Others may decide to color each component. I guess I just don’t have the patience for that.

Plato: I think if it sounds good to you it’s great. When it comes to system cabling and personal listening bias there are just too many variables; so short of inviting a bunch of us over to witness “the loom” no one can really offer a valid opinion, including me.  Happy Listening!

As with all audio dilemmas, no two systems and no two sets of ears are exactly the same.  You are the final judge when it comes to what your system sounds like and how you want it to sound.  Each cable may affect the sound in a different way.  Adding different tonalities with cables may be a better route for you, but staying consistent with your loom could also be appealing.

What are your thoughts?  Are you a believer in the loom theory?  Comment below!


  1. While I never called it Loom Theory, I definitely promoted the notion as – at least as causal guidance – while I worked at a high end shop shortly after university. The principle was simple: all types of cables have some strong points and other weak points: use the type of cable that’s good at what’s important to you, and trade off the balance. If you mix and match cables of distinctly different characters, one cable’s weak points may detract from another’s strong points and you don’t end up any further ahead. In practice it’s never that simple, but I think when you start using a cable’s character to”tune” a component too much, perhaps the issue is really the component’s fit with the rest of the system. And with too many cable variables in the mix, it quickly becomes too challenging to determine if that’s the case. That said, what value it has is restricted to the system in play: digital and analogue don’t cross over, and while some cable theories may benefit both system types, they don’t truely interact as an integrated whole. It’s pre and post d/a. (I’d love to hear other’s thoughts on this.) On power cables: back to the comment on different comments from different brands, this has a lot to do with how the power cable and power supply interact. That will vary by power supply design as well as how power supply affects the sound for a particular type of component. All that to say, I buy it in principle, but with some specific qualifications.

  2. In my experience, cables can have a family sound. The issue is this: If you like those qualities, and they work well for your gear/room/music/tastes, enjoy. If not… It is possible to take the effect too far. One brand that I have used is a bit “cool” sounding. An entire system like that might mitigate some warmth of tube gear, and sound downright icy (to me) in a SS kit.

  3. In double blind experiments conducted, it has been illustrated that one cannot perceive the difference between the prohibitively expensive cable and very cheap cable. As one that builds his own equipment, amps, loudspeakers, and DAC, my internal wiring is the limiting factor and when the cost of the interconnects is more than ALL the parts of equipment, it should clue you into the idea that something is wrong, with excellent marketing prevailing over prudent engineering. Current amplification is OTL monoblocks and preamp from Transcendent Sound, DAC from Audionote with a CD recorder from Tascam, and a Revox B-790 TT. Loudspeakers are RD-57 planar magnetics from Speakerlab operated as dipoles with Morel (2/channel) MW 164’s in 12 foot long PVC pipe waveguides. New speaker components are the Raal 140-15 ribbons, Lowther DX 65’s and 2 Jordan JX 150’s/channel, both the Lowthers and Jordans will be waveguide loaded. Yet, if spending exorbitant amounts on cables makes you happy, by all means.

  4. Mythsville.. If you need to pay hundreds upon thousands for audio cable because you think it really makes a difference, they have places for people like you. I won’t argue that it makes no difference at all but if you find 1/2 of the audiophiles think it’s crazy and the other half think they hear a difference… let it go. I call it the point of diminishing returns…. remember the source material most likely was created with plain old copper wires.

  5. Properly-made Radio Shack cable will give you just what’s there. Moving audio signals at audio frequencies is a piece of cake.

    These “high-end” cables distort the signal. The fact that some people like the distortion … and prefer it to the plain ol’ audio signal makes it a very expensive way to insert a tone control.

    And wait until you see how your speakers are wired internally …. not to mention the miles of good-quality but otherwise ordinary cables and wires that got the sound from the performers to the CD via mic cables, mixers, mastering devices and CD cutters!.

    Extra spare money should be spent on concerts, CDs and gifts for your mate. Singing lessons, too.

  6. The facts from years of A/B tests with objective listeners tell the same story about exotic and over priced wire and cable, which is that the hype exceeds the results. Avoid laying next to a/c supply wire, loops and inadequate sizes. Remove oxidation from connections points and enjoy the music.

  7. The answer to the loom question would be another question. What is better ? Having said this if you want to hear what the manufacturer of a cable consider to be better you must connect your whole system with the same manufacturers cable ( even though you might be able to get about 70% of the intended sound using the cable in question on the source ) . But you can get better sound by matching different manufacturers cables , only it won’t be the sound the manufacturer had in mind , which brings us again to the question , what is better ? Better could be and usually is different things to differnt people orF

  8. To me better sound correlates with musicality or the ability to comunicate music . If a cable helps my system sound more musically involving then that cable is the better one , period , nothing more to be said .

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