Do cable risers make a difference?

Some audio enthusiasts are really paying attention to detail by using cable risers.  Cable risers lift speaker wires off of the floor.  The object is to eliminate contact with static electricity from a carpet or other connective issues with any type floor material.  They can take many different forms both material and shapes.  Popular types include notched wooden bridges, ceramic insulator style, and plastic sling type.

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But there is an ongoing debate as to whether they actually make a difference in your sound or if they are a frivolous upgrade. Some say they can affect the flow or current, while others say it’s all just nonsense.  Below you’ll find out what some of our users had to say about them on our forum.

Tbromgard: Can anyone explain why cable risers do or don’t work to improve the sound? Thanks.

Mapman: Not something I worry about, but some carpets are prone to static electricity, which can only be bad.  Also, running wires parallel to each other and in close proximity over a distance is generally not a good idea due to em field interaction, and risers are one way to avoid that.

Rok2id: They do nothing except separate you from your money. It’s called wealth transfer.

Nonoise: The interaction that occurs is when something like a synthetic carpet has cables laying on them. The synthetic carpet’s properties are similar to those used in cable jackets and thus, compete with and interfere with those fields mentioned that travel with the cables signal. They simply smear the signal. Yes, they can be measured so it stands to reason that if something is nearby, let alone parallel with and touching a cable, can interact with it, then it can mess with it. To what extent is debatable but if you have synthetic carpets, then go the extra mile to get them away from the carpet but you need not pay through the nose to do so. I’m lucky in that my Mapleshade Double Helix speaker cables are so taut that they are easily suspended with nothing more than themselves and whatever nearby is handy. If you have wool carpets or wood flooring, I wouldn’t give it any consideration.

Viridian: There is a firm, scientific basis for raising cables off of the carpet changing the way that electrons flow through them. The carpet actually acts as part of the dielectric covering the conductors. Taking the cables out of contact with the dielectric of the carpet will hence change the electron flow and fields within the cable. Of course, the audibility of all this is up for discussion. Personally, my life is too short. But I would never dismiss the idea.

Stevecham: People talk about flow of electrons like water through a pipe but folks, there is zero net displacement of electrons in speaker cables. Stop the voodoo please.

Samhar: I couldn’t hear any difference but they did dress up the wires, kept dust bunnies off the cables, and because I used inexpensive foam elevators that stacked, keep wires separated/organized around the racks.

Do you have any expertise on how placement of cables can affect your sound? Do you use cable risers, and if so, do you recommend them? Why? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. NoNoise has the theory right; It being that a synthetic material carpet can somehow act as an extension of the dialectric and suck out some signal. Natural fibers like wool & cotton supposedly do not do this.

    The fact is that a cable’s dialectric always absorbs some tiny amount of electricity and ity’s difference in conductivity from the conductors themselves can cause a slight ‘blur’.

    Hence the use of teflon and other new materials, as well as air-tubes and even vacuums, as dialectrics. George Cardas even invented a brand-new dialetric for his ‘Clear’ cables.

    My point is that most modern speaker cables already do something to mitigate this effect, which appears to be minimal to begin with. I can tell you that I know a number of people who DO use cable-lifters, but I have never heard their effects demonstrated by adding or removing them… as I have with many other subtle tweaks.

    Bottom Line: This is the absolute LAST tweak I would consider. If you want to experiment, buy some heavy-duty paper cups and make your own cable-risers. If you hear a difference, consider something moer permanent. If not…move on.

  2. One more thing… While some cable-lifters are made of porcelain, or whatever species of wood (maple, myrtle, mahagony, etc.) the maker prefers, most are made of some type of plastic. One company advertises “non-conductiove acrylic”, while Shunyata actually makes a point that the Dark Field foam IS conductive (but somehow negates the magnetic field created when other lifters elevate speakler cables off the carpet).
    In other words, even the manufacturers disagree on what cable-risers do, and HOW they work. Like I wrote above… first try paper cups and see if you hear any difference.

  3. In my experience I have heard a benefit when cables are lifted above carpet. Every kid remembers the trick of dragging your feet across a carpet in slippers and running over to zap your little brother or sister (Yeowww) Imagine that potential energy jumping into your system, it wouldn’t add to clarity

  4. I think this is a very similar argument that is made with different interconnects or speaker cable. Some people swear it makes a difference others not. I personally believe that every listening setup is unique and that in some systems there will be no difference, but in others perhaps there is EM interference from other close cables that cable risers can help with by separating the wires. Static from carpets can also be an issue. I think “TheArt’s” comments are worthwhile. Try a paper cup, if you notice a difference then it may be worth spending the money.

    I think it also come down to the total cost of your system and where to allocate funds. If you have a $500 system, spending $100 for risers is probably not the best place to put the money. However, if you have a $30,000 system, working on the “small stuff” suddenly becomes worth it (or at least reasonable). Spending 5% of your stereo budget on components that “may” help is not outrageous. IMHO.

    Disclosure: I do use cable risers but I don’t know if they make a difference. I use clear plastic acrylic ones, they are about 3.5 inches tall and cost around $25 for 16 of them.

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