A true believer

I like to look at the pictures and descriptions of the various systems belonging to our fellow Audiogon members. Personally I admire the most humble system. But some times I see one that just leaves me shaking my head in amusement.

I was looking at the featured systems today and found one that consisted of three components that reproduced music. A cd player ($7700), a integrated amp. ($4000), a pair of speakers ($10,500). Total $22000. A very nice system. But, and I mean BUT, another $71,431 in cables, tweaks, stands. Things that sometimes in the tiniest increments help in the reproduction of music.

Just saying.
If you own the business, it will work best if you know something somebody don't. In this business I know a lot. Therefore my tweaks and wires are less than $400 in total for $800 amp, $600 pre, $400 CD-player, $2,000 analogue, $2,000 speakers.
Total $5,800 component value and near $400 wires and tweaks value including an audio stand. I should invest more for the room treatments which might not be that super-expensive. Thinking of getting pieces of fabric at any bulk fabric retailer to build roll-down curtains that would clamp to the floor so I'll be able to lift them back up when I need more light from the windows(just like screen for projection TV).
Music collection overheads rig by nearly 3x.
I like Marakanetz's system philosophy. It makes sense and I'm sure it makes nice music.

These days putting big bucks in a CD player is, dare I say, foolish, and putting insane money into the audio cables is probably alright -- provided you own the company.

The sad thing is that a lot of these big-buck systems often fail to please and don't connect the listener to the music.
It does seem that many audiophiles have a particular part of their system that they concentrate on, whether that be power cords, (seems to be a popular one lately) other tweeks, or turntables, preamps etc. I find that I have a never ending curiosity about different speakers, so I have tried as many as I could afford, and I have learned a lot along the way. To you or me it may seem that the member you are speaking of has spent a wildly disproportionate amount on accessories, but that's just his area of focus, and he must find it worthwhile.
In high end audio, an ounce of sense is worth a ton of cents.
Tht person may have aquired the tweaks cheaply. Who knows?
They may have had a very expensive system, but lost it in a divorce or whatever, a downsizing would sell the main components, and leave a pile of once expensiv bits. the wife can know a $20,00 amp is worth money, the wire probably not.
Anyway, whatever floats the boat is fine by me.
It does seem to be 'wrong' and I would not advise anyone to do it that way, but what's done is done.
Not my problem. And not my judgement call either.
I have an average 10% of my system in wires etc. and an additional 5% in powerline conditioners. so i am just average. But that does not let me say any other choice is wrong.
Oh, please recommend me an integrated because I don't have a budget for wires between separates! LOL!
I myself do think Marakanetz is also close to my thoughts and applied practice in regard to my situation.
However, in realistic terms we make choices based on our finances. That being said if mine or other's financial situation was to change dramaticaly for the better with an abundance of expendable monies at hand I would bet there would be justification to find and purchase better simply because one could.
Doesn't always mean it is better or worse for either situation.The thought of an Audiophile with money to burn and not upgrading, aint gonna happen!
You're right. But, like I said, just saying.
Maybe it's just me but, I am pretty sure, no almost sure, no absolutely without question sure, that were I to take $93,631 dollars and put it into a very good cd player, a very very good integrated amp or pre amp and amps, and a pair of very, very, very good speakers. Hooked it all up with zip cord. Properly "tweaked" the speaker placement and added any room needed room treatments....

Well, you can see where this is going. I believe wires make a difference but, it is so far down the line in regards to importance. And the gains are so minimal. I mean, come on.
As long as YOU believe that; it's ALL that matters!
I just know that if I spent $71k on audio cables that in 3 months some enterprising company would come out with cables for only $35k that sounded better.

I hope that at least this fellow had the good sense to internally rewire all his components with the same wire and to change all the connectors to the same kind/brand as well.
I saw your point in the OP, but now I think you are swinging too far in the other direction. For the average person with limited funds and other things in life to think about, choosing sanely priced cables that work well with your system is more serendipity than science, but if you are lucky enough to stumble on the right combo, there is certainly more than a minimal difference.
p.t. Barnum nailed it!!!!!
Roxy, I do think you can improve a system, somewhat, with wire. Oddly enough, it is one of the few things in audio where some of the less expensive ones make a bigger difference than the more expensive ones.

Most products in our hobby increase in performance with price. Not always but, most. Speakers grouped in the $2000 level don't out perform the ones grouped in the $12000 level for instance. One thing I know with all certainty is that nobody can take speakers in the $2000 level add $10000 of speaker cable and have the sound of a $12000 speaker. But you can turn a $2000 level speaker into a $12000 speaker by selling them and spend the money on speakers in the $12000 range.
I just have to weigh in here. A few months back, there was a raging controversy on the Hilberink Tannoy site, so much so, in fact, the subject was banned from all further discussion. The object of all this heated debate was some Russian speaker cables that were reputed to sound as good, or better, than even the most expensive cables out there.

Many, or most it seems, of the members of that site are electrical engineers. So, there are many adherents to the philosophy that cables don't make any difference, as long as the basic requirements for adequate transmission of the signal is met.

So, naturally, I purchased a set. From Lithuania, they cost me $57 including shipping. Since this was on the cheap, I bought plain copper spade lugs from my local Ace hardware, and soldered them on. I think my Cardas solder cost more than the cables.

Anyway, I have used them to drive my custom Tannoy HPD 315's, with a VAC PA 35.35, and my Sophia Baby amp. My determination is they sound every bit as good as my $1400 Synergistic Research Resolution Reference FX speaker cables. Maybe the naysayers are right.

I'm not looking to ignite a conflagration here, as it would be rather pointless.

Different strokes.

Rok2id, My sentiments exactly.
No one paid attention so far that that person had spent $4k on amplification and $7.7k on digital. Now that's bullshit. Speakers are $10.5k so amplification should be close enough to that.
There are believers and there are those so obsessed with something in all walks of life that there are few limits.

Then there are also those who profit and make a living by promoting a way for others to achieve their ideals.

If someone buys into whatever, what difference does it make what I think about what someone else chooses to spend their money on? IT's their money and their choice. Needless to say, we all will chose differently and most will find contentment within more modest means, at least that is my hope.
06-02-11: Islandmandan
Many, or most it seems, of the members of (another) site are electrical engineers. So, there are many adherents to the philosophy that cables don't make any difference, as long as the basic requirements for adequate transmission of the signal is met.
I am a highly experienced electrical engineer/electronics designer and manager (not in audio), and I for one certainly would not make that assertion. What I would assert, though, is that there is no reason to expect anything more than a very weak degree of correlation between the price of a cable or tweak, and its sonic performance in any given system.

I say that partly based on technical grounds (I will spare everyone the couple of pages or so that it would take to adequately explain that), and partly based on opinions that have been expressed here and elsewhere by other audiophiles who are not technically oriented, but whose opinions I highly respect, and which are based on very extensive relevant experience.

Two conclusions follow from that, IMHO:

1)If the owner of the system that was referred to in the OP had utilized the same active components and speakers but focused the very extensive amount of time and experimentation he has invested in developing his system on relatively inexpensive cables and tweaks, he might very well have achieved comparable or even better results.

2)If he had allocated the $93,431 such that most of it went into speakers and components, while investing a similar amount of time and experimentation into relatively low priced cables and tweaks, assuming that he made good choices of components and speakers he would almost certainly have achieved better results.

The bottom line, IMHO: With some minor qualifications that aren't worth mentioning, I am in essential agreement with the comments made above by Agaffer, Marakanetz, Orpheus10, Plato, Rok2id, Islandmandan, and Rrog.


-- Al
I agree with you without qualification. The cables that I currently use throughout my system were not "cheap" per se, but they work much better in my system than several others that cost substantially more. It seems that sometimes it ends up being dumb luck, and not the amount of money spent that determines a good system match.
long ago, in a different age, when men who were truth seekers ruled the world of audio, it was said that the perfect Amp would be a straight piece of wire with gain. Think about the im[plications of that statement. What does it say about WIRE?
'As long as YOU believe that; it's ALL that matters!'

The creation of this idea is what got some charlatan into the audio snake oil hall of fame
Well Say i had $100,000. to spend on a system.
I would spend the money all on components, leaving only perhaps a thousand for cables.
Yes, one percent.
Now from the folks who are cables are vital. I can see them spending $60,000. on equipment, and $40,000. on cables.
Even $70,000 on equipment and $30,000. on cables.
Il take my $99,000. worth of stuff instead of the wires.
Elizabeth, it is precisely because of your distorted philosophy that you do not have $100k for stereo. Nor do you really need them since you wouldn't hear most of what that system would be capable of. But you are very stubborn and keep pushing this nonsense around here. I think you may be a little tired of that.
Cables, isolation and power devices can easily run 20%-30% the entire cost. A lot depends on prices you get when buying used or even new, complexity of the system, lengths of the cables required and ability and willingness to hear things.
So if you wish to use your MBL dream speakers with cheap Kimber wires it's certainly your choice. But your opinion on this matter has no real value whatsoever.
Perhaps I should have said, "If YOU can't HEAR the differences; SAVE YOUR MONEY!" I was responded to the OP's camment about wire's contribution to the sound of as system being so, "minimal."
Invest the preponderance of your money in components.

Cables are far more alike than different and there is only a very mild positive correlation between wire prices and performance.

"long ago, in a different age, when men who were truth seekers ruled the world of audio, it was said that the perfect Amp would be a straight piece of wire with gain. Think about the im[plications of that statement. What does it say about WIRE?"

I dunno, that wire has no gain? That truth seekers morphed into BS artists? I dunno, what does it say about wire?

Inna, such a gentleman. Resorting to bullying,shouting, personal attacks always shows the depth of one's argument.
If you're driving down the interstate and the speed limit is 70mph, but you're going 85mph, do you really have the right to call the guy who passes you at 95mph a maniac? There's an element of absurdity here as people with ridiculously expensive systems criticize other peoples' even more ridiculously expensive systems.
If you are THIS driver, yeah, i can call him a MANIAC.
SEE to belive. and just so you know, the dude lived.
No criticism regarding total cost, just a discussion about what would sound better.

Speaker(A)+wire(W) that cost more than speaker. (A) + (W) = C for total cost.


Speaker (B) that equals (C) + zip-cord (Z).

Would that make the question:
is (B+Z )> (A+W), is (B+Z)< (A+W), or is (B+Z)=(A+W). My head is spinning.

Why does it have to be a criticism or argument. This is a hobby. My biggest hobby is surfing and when surfers discuss best equipment or surf spots I never here the kind of defensive nonsense audiophiles seem to throw out. Someone having different thoughts than you shouldn't raise your hackles.

I love music reproduction, and I admit to loving the equipment as much as the music it makes. When I lived in California I tried to go to as many of the Orange County/Los Angeles audio club functions as possible. But, like it or not, there is a very high nerd factor in this hobby that you don't find in things like car hobbiest, or surfing, or marshal arts, the only other hobbies I participate in. I openly admit that I am fascinated by observing the apoplectic fits that can be solicited in some audiophiles if you even suggest that you have a difference of opinion.
If this guy has his house paid off, a solid retirement fund, money set aside for his kid's college fund etc, who am I to criticize the way his spends his money on audio. Just because one disagrees with how he allocated his resources doesn’t make him wrong…just a difference of opinion.
Agaffer, you're talking about a $93,000 stereo system. It's inherently ridiculous to the overwhelming majority of music lovers worldwide just because it costs $93,000. It doesn't matter how the money was allocated. You seem to think there's a more rational, better value oriented way to spend $93,000 on a 2 channel stereo? Explain how that works to the average working/middle class family.

Elizabeth, totally irrelevant. He wasn't driving on the highway -- he was driving on the shoulder of the highway!
I just don't get the point of these discussions. I, personally, would not spend that kind of money on tweaks, and wire; I am too cheap for that, and that is no indication of wether I feel they are worth the money or not. But, can I envision a scenario where someone has put together a well chosen set of components whose basic sound he/she really likes AND HAS GOTTEN TO REALLY KNOW/UNDERSTAND (!!!), and then proceeds to spend (over time) as much or more on wire and tweaks, to eek out as much performance as possible from them? You bet! Is that a valid approach? You bet!

Example: I own (among others) a pair of Stax F-81 electrostatic speakers. To my ears (and I have listened to a whole lot of speakers over the years) there is no other speaker that has a midrange like the Stax. Some may disagree, but to these ears, that midrange comes closer to the sound that I want, than any other speaker. I want that sound, and am willing (most of the time, which is why I own other speakers) to put up with the Stax's problems, and limitations. So, I have built a system around those speakers. In spite of my frugality, the cables/tweaks in my system cost much more than the Stax's do. Am I nuts for doing that? I don't think so. I have been able to elevate the sound of that fabulous midrange to even higher levels by judicious (I think) choices in cabling and tweaks. End result is a sound that I don't think I could have gotten by allocating that money for any other, more expensive speakers.

I know of so many cases where the audiophile churns equipment constantly, the whole while kidding himself about wether he is getting TRULY better sound by tieng it all together with this and that cable/tweak. End result: mediocre sound.

Agaffer, let's make this conversation really interesting: why don't you name the member who's system you referred to in your OP? Maybe he is following this thread. If so, whoever you are, chime in, and share with us the reasoning behind your choices.
I literally worked all over the world including many 3rd world countries. To the vast majority of the world's population spending $93.00 on a stereo would be extravagant. But, you keep missing the point. We aren't giving our thoughts on total cost of our hobby we are discussing what gives the better improvement for the same cost. Using better components or keeping said components and improving them with wires or other tweaks.

One of my friends owns Vee Jay records and one of the largest hotel chains in the world and recently purchased a new system from the ground up. I would never remark to him on the total cost, days wages at best for him, none of my business and I love to stop in and hear it. But, if I saw it for the first time and found out that his audio dealer talked him into a Sony Disc-man, Sherwood RD7502 receiver,Polk Audio TSI300 loudspeakers and then added in $100,000 worth of stands, conditioners, and wire telling him he now had the best $100,000 plus system that the dealer could put together...... Damn right I would say something, as soon as I got up from the floor from laughing.

But, that's me. If someone can recommend how to make a $1000 speaker sound as good or better than something like the Wilson Sasha, or Vandersteen 5A or any speaker like them I am all ears and willing to announce my ignorance.
Frogman, thank you for the reasonable explanation for a reason to allocate so much to tweaks and cables. You put reasoning was well put forth.

As to the system I am referring to, I suspect it really is in the owners imagination, I didn't add it up but, I think he listed more cables, powercords, conditioners, plugs than he had equipment to attach them to.

You can easily find his system as it consists of no pictures of the complete system instead there is a picture of some boxers. It may be real but, I doubt it.

As to the point of the discussion, because we like to discuss. That's why you added your discussion to the thread. And, sometimes it makes us stop and think in new directions.
Meant, your reasoning was well put forth. Don't know how the extra put got in there.
"because we like to discuss"-good point.
Agaffer, new improved BOSE 901 series 6 version 2's just came out 5 months ago. I think they are one of the best bargains on the market right now. I have been at CES shows over the years and listened to a lot speakers and I would not trade my new BOSE 901's for any of them...period! I like my 901's with the speakers turned around backwards a lot better and they sound best with the speakers only 12 inches off the floor too. I know, people on these forums just.. LOVE to badmouth these BOSE 901's BUT these new 901's are not the same old 901's you have heard in the past!.. These 901 speakers are the ones you keep for life !.. A FUTURE CLASSIC....
'I dunno, that wire has no gain? That truth seekers morphed into BS artists? I dunno, what does it say about wire?'

The truth seekers died. It means wire neither adds or takes away from a system, its just there. Of course you understood that when you read it.
Just yanking your chain, Rok2id. I could tell you had a sense of humor.

Back in the olden days when I was in college, 901s were coveted by lots of people. I envied my friends that could afford them. I have nothing against them. They have shortfalls but, most speakers do.

Usually when someone puts them down it is accompanied with, "for the price you can do better." Again, true of every speaker. No matter what you chose someone is going to let you know that you could have done better. Besides, with just the right wire and tweaks they can become giant killers. For the price though, you could have done better.
"Back in the olden days when I was in college, 901s were coveted by lots of people. I envied my friends that could afford them...."

Me too!
'Just yanking your chain, Rok2id. I could tell you had a sense of humor.'

A sense of humor is essential on this site. :)
Agaffer, BUT have you heard these latest BOSE 901's? These new 901's have had a lot improvements done to them....more than 650 from what bose told me. They don't even use the same speaker drivers anymore. How can anyone say.. you could have done better when you have not even listened to these new improved 901's yet? When you get the time.. go listen to some and please let us know what you think about these BOSE 901's.......
I find it amusing, that you've chosen this thread through which to pander those....., oh well! Perhaps you feel you can find a more deaf group here, than on the TAS site?( http://www.avguide.com/forums/the-new-and-improved-bose-901-series-6-mk2s )
Thanks, HiFisoundguy but, I'm not looking for speakers at the moment. I'll be sure and not pass up a chance to audition them should I see them somewhere.

"How can anyone say.. you could have done better when you have not even listened to these new improved 901's yet? "

Doesn't matter what speaker, amp, preamp, TT, etc. you buy or like someone will let you know that you could have done better. Don't fight it, you will never convince other audiophiles that you made the right decision. When I bought my last speakers my budget was anything under $30,000 and because I travel a lot I auditioned every thing I could. If I touted what I choose believe me there would be easily a dozen posts telling me why I should have bought whatever they owned instead.

The important thing is that you buy cables that make them really stand out. Sell your car if you have to.
Agaffer, I already have great cables now... Crimson R.M. Music Link cables, one of the very few cable brands on the world market that don't have a sound of their own !
Cables are just like religion. Everyone believes they have the right one.
"Cables are just like religion. Everyone believes they have the right one."

I believe this is a naive statement Elizabeth. I personally don't believe in the "right" anything but to the person that is willing to lay down the green. There are always synergy and taste issues with everything.

I do believe with the majority that so far as putting together a truly musically satisfying system the components should be first and foremost, that is where the major focus should start. The real truth is found in the satisfaction we find in listening to the music we love. Accessories whether they be vibration isolation, room treatments, cables, powercords, upgraded capacitors, tubes etc. can all contribute in no small way towards what we hear.

I've got a system that has essentially the same components for the past 8 years. The foundation was there to build on. The improvements realized (listening enjoyment) to this system has been gradual and significant, a cummulative effect. It is quite satisfying to me to have come to this point without getting the upgrade bug but REALIZING the major components work together no doubt, you know and go from there. This is experience, this is knowing from previous trial and error. It can't be taken away regardless of what others have experienced, you know what you have learned from where you were to where you are. You learn what works and what doesn't. You find out about the snake oil products and the ones that are worth your dollars and you make your choices. It isn't about religion at all, it is really nothing more than a personal journey to find what each of us is looking for. I can't qualify what someone should spend on a pair of cables, or a powercord for that matter. I would only say listen to as many as you can which is what I did and settle for the ones that work best. What works in one system may not in another but if someone is foolish enough to spend a disproportionate amount on cables and powercords rather than spent wisely on the actual components that make the music, its their choice. Possibly knowledge will be gained from such folly. Bottom line tweeking is where it ends, not starts but unless you have gone down this road, don't discount what can be achieved, you might be quite suprised.

I KNOW I have purchased wisely. I could resell my pre-amp, amplifier and turntable easily for what I originally paid. My cd transport a JVC 1050TN I've had for 20 years and its great, paid 800.00 new, solid and dependable. It was highly regarded in its day and still is in my book. My DAC is under 1K new, it is a NOS DAC with a tube output, no opamp, it is simply amazing for the money. I'm sure not ready to plunk down 5k on what I know would be better but not by much. The i.c. and speaker cables would take somewhat of a hit but even then I purchased at a good price, less than retail but I have had them for 6 years with no desire to upgrade, its finished and I am as happy today as when I purchased them. Power cords, 300.00 pair max. each. Speakers are 10 year old Merlin VSM-M that keep rising to the occasion, I might upgrade to the latest Merlin in the future but I keep reconsidering because it is hard for me to believe that the new ones could be too much better than what I'm hearing. The rest of the tweeks including homebrewed bass traps, isolation platforms and vibration control devices, Stillpoint speaker stands my Custom David Berning designed tube BAM to augument the bass frequencies with the VSM have all been money well spent not to mention cap upgrades in my pre-amp along with numerous tube combinations to find the best mix for my tastes and goals.

Tubegroover, thanks for letting us know. I don't know what the question was but, somehow you managed to fill us in nicely.

HiFisoundguy, good choice in cables. Tell us more.

Elizabeth, hang in there, I got it.
Agaffer, it seems to me going reading through the thread that it morphed into a simple observation by you in your opening into yet another thread about cables and their value vs price. I tend to agree in general with this theory. On the other hand I do not believe it is always the case.

The only point I attempted to make is that I "bought into" ic cables that retail for 2,500.00 a 1 meter pair throughout the system. The further point is that they DID make a significant difference (read improvement) after doing numerous controlled comparisons over an extended period of time, years, with cables at different price points. I was willing to pay what I did at the time though it certainly wasn't retail. The part about letting the music through without a signature that was obvious, a clarity that was different than what I had previously experienced, an epiphany moment. Maybe there is something out there comparable to what these cables do in my system at a much cheaper price but at the time I sure didn't find it. I don't consider myself irrational with ANY expenditures, least of all audio, and can certainly afford whatever I'm willing to spend. Again, you put down your money and live with your choices. It always has been less about the gear to me than getting a desired result.