Any audible difference between cheap and expensive BNC cables?


I recently added a Naim streamer (streaming from an SSD NAS) to eliminate my PC (and fan noise) from the equation, plus remove the need to run a USB across the room from PC to DAC. It already sounds better than my previous PC>USB>DAC setup and is connected with a cheap $6 Monoprice BNC to RCA S/PDIF that I nabbed on Amazon.

Would there be any audible difference if the cheap BNC to RCA was swapped out with a higher end BNC to BNC S/PDIF?

I've gotten huge gains from upgrading speaker cables. Upgrading my interconnects between sources and amps on the other hand produced negligible results. The dealer I bought my turntable from has a NORDOST Silver Shadow BNC to BNC at 50% off for just under $300. I'm just wondering what kind of difference, if any, I'd get in sound from upgrading. The Monoprice cable was supposed to be temporary but it sounds good so I'm on the fence about upgrading now since I've always been told digital is digital and buying expensive digital cables that pass the same 1's and 0's doesn't make any difference.

I'm on board with upgrading if it makes an audible difference but want to make sure I'm spending my monies wisely so I'd like to hear some opinions of people who have tested different S/PDIF cables and what, if any, changes they experienced. The DAC has RCA and BNC S/PDIF inputs but the streamer only has BNC out so I have to at least be BNC on the Naim side. The DAC side could be RCA or BNC.

Any thoughts?
samiamnot
You can try this one. You can choose the termination. Expect more low level detail, but don't expect big changes. 

https://www.takefiveaudio.com/products/1127-neotech-nevd-2001-bnc-digital-cable-deep-cryo-treated

If it doesn't work for you, you can send it back. Take five is a good company. Or try VH audio. 

samiamnot

The dealer I bought my turntable from has a NORDOST Silver Shadow BNC to BNC at 50% off for just under $300. I'm just wondering what kind of difference, if any, I'd get in sound from upgrading ... Any thoughts?
Why not borrow the cable from your dealer and then listen to it in your system?
I would definitely go bnc to bnc. It is the industry standard for years for 75 ohm digital connections. An rca connector is difficult to make in exactly 75 ohm.
For digital this stuff matters, cause reflections cause jitter.
And yes digital cables do matter, what goes wrong at the source cant be recuperated elsewhere in the system ;)
BNC to BNC is definitely the best.  Be sure to get the cables with the appropriate connectors for each end made originally by the manufacturer. With cheap $5 BNC/RCA adapters, the signature ’sound’ of the cable will definitely change for the worse. The poor quality metal/wire in the adapter will affect the signal. Everything matters! The only exceptions might be those made by reputable audio companies, such as Cardas, Black Cat, Audio Sensibility and Purist Audio.
S/PDIF cables do matter. I've heard differences in each cable I have owned or auditioned. With BNC terminations you will have the required 75ohms for digital. As @steakster says, a high quality BNC/RCA adapter is required. He mentions that some cable manufacturers can provide adapters.

I want to mention that I've owned some excellent digital cables with RCA connectors which claim to be 75ohm. With all cables, the design and implementation are key elements in reproducing quality sound.


@tantejuut It looks like that company is in Canada so I’d probably have to deal with import duties and I don’t know what else if I wanted to return it. I also haven’t heard of Take Five or VH audio. What do you mean by low level detail? I’m unsure of the terminology. Are we talking about attack time here?

@cleeds The dealer is out of state so it’s not as easy as stopping by the shop to borrow one for demo. However, they do have a gracious return policy without restocking fees so I will mostly likely order it from them and just eat the return shipping costs if I don’t notice an improvement.

@blueskywalker I get that a bad signal will cause issues. I’m just unsure if the Monoprice cable is actually producing a bad signal since I don’t know exactly what jitter sounds like or if it’s something that the human ear can even hear. I read an article on jitter where the author wrote that he had to take measurements and examine graphical readings since they were too subtle to be heard by ear. I do agree that in theory it seems like BNC to BNC would be superior to BNC to RCA since, well, having to of the same termination just seems better than mismatching. I’m just unsure if I have a jitter problem in the first place so I might be addressing an issue that doesn’t exist.

@steakster The Nordost cable I’m considering is BNC to BNC and they provide RCA adapters should I ever need them. With the option to go BNC out of the streamer and BNC into the DAC though, I wouldn’t have any use for them with the current setup.


@lowrider57 I understand with speaker cable that you'll get different sound from different materials, e.g. silver producing a brighter sound that copper. But that's analog. With a digital signal, how can the sound be colored differently from cable to cable. Don't mean to be so clueless but if a good cable can carry a signal without jitter problems, wouldn't it sound the same as any other cable that doesn't have jitter problems. Hearing "differences" is just kind of vague. Can you elaborate?
Of course, proper impedance is important, so is capacitance and the impedance match of the devices being used. The digital stream enters the cable as a square wave. The design/material of the cable and its length will determine how much reflection happens. If the square wave becomes rounded or uneven, the source device will not get an accurate reading of the bitstream information. One result of the distorted signal is jitter.
The quality of the clock comes into play here. It may have trouble interpreting the signal and correcting it to match the original source.
Different cables may result in different sonic attributes.

That’s about where my knowledge of digital transmission ends. Those with more knowledge should chime in.

I ended up ordering the Nordost Silver Shadow BNC. The reviews are all positive ones but still vague comments like "music became more real sounding", "very fast cable", "makes digital sound less digital", "open and detailed", "detailed with natural sound"...

All similar reviews with different buzzwords. Maybe that's a good thing and means it consistently delivers across various setups. Suppose I'll just have to wait until next week and hear for myself.

Thanks for all the input.
Digital cables terminated with BNC actually perform better than cables terminated with RCA.  If you have an RCA input for digital coax, you're better off getting a BNC cable and using BNC-to-RCA adapters.  The Black Cat BNC-to-RCA are the highest resolution and most transparent adapters.  The adapters that come with stock Nordost cables are normal gold-plated adapters, similar to many cheap adapters.  They are nice, but the gold-plating will soften the sound somewhat.
@samiamnot congrats on the order, i am sure you made the right decision;)
let us know how it sounds when its burned in 
The verdict is in. It made a surprisingly nice improvement in sound. I wanted to give it a decent amount of listening time before coming to any conclusions.

@blueskywalker I don't think it sounds at all different after a couple weeks of listening than it did right out of the box. The necessity to burn in a BNC cable is baloney in my opinion, at least to my ears, or at least with this particular cable. Doesn't sound any better now that it's got a good 200+ hours on it. I left signal running through it 24/7 for the first week and noticed no change. Still don't.

After swapping in this new cable I immediately noticed a change in sound. It wasn't like when I upgraded to nice RCA interconnects either where I was straining to hear a difference. The change was subtle but not subtle at the same time. As in, there wasn't a drastic change in the overall sound, but the little changes it made really added up to a better listening experience.

I noticed the most change in the details of the mids and especially the highs in terms of speed. Now I get the "very fast cable" comment that one reviewer said. The pluck of a guitar sounds so much more crisp, but not in the way that it's just brighter. It sounds sharper and, well, "faster". I especially notice with electronic music. For example, at 2:48 on the song Luminous Beings by Jon Hopkins, there are these little click sounds in the song that I can only describe as razor sharp now. Swapping in my old cable makes them sound less snappy, resulting in them sounding somewhat dull. And the veil on the mids that was lifted from upgrading to nice speakers cables seems to have been further lifted after installing the new cable. I didn't notice a big change in the low end, however the new detail I'm getting from the mids and highs seems to be giving the low end more room to do it's thing. I know that's not technical terminology but it's the best way I can describe it with my limited knowledge of audio terminology.

Lastly, the soundstage is more holographic on my loudspeakers but also fixed a problem I was having with my HD800 headphones. I upgraded the stock tubes on my headphone amp a while back to NOS 1959 Grey-Shield 6922's which made my HD820's sing with the most amazing soundstage. However, it made my HD800's which already have a huge soundstage sound thin and lifeless. Somehow the switch to the new cable got rid of the problem of making my 800's sound thin and lifeless and now I can enjoy both sets of heaphones on that headphone amp. Don't ask me how. I was certain that after hearing the better soundstage on my loudspeakers that it was going to make the HD800's sound even more thin and lifeless but the opposite happened.

I was not a believer that a digital cable could make a difference. I was almost certain I'd be returning the cable but my opinion has changed. I've finally gotten to the point where I can happily say I'm done upgrading that system indefinitely. The system is dialed in so nice with such good synergy now that I don't want to change a thing. Phew! Never thought that day would come.
I have bought 3 NOS Silver Shadow BC cables from Ron at Liquid HiFi here on Audiogon- that cable is a killer with great Sonics, super construction and value for $$$$ enjoy it in good health. It gives my reference AQ Eagle Eye a run for the money

enjoy the music !!!!
Congrats on your Nordost Silver Shadow. I use the same cable and agree it’s a great cable. I will also recommend trying a Nordost power cable as well on your Naim streamer as it will take it to another level. On my digital components I use Nordost Vishnu P.C.’s and a couple cables I built from VH Audio because of the C7 plug on my streamer. Most of my cables are WyWires but I like Nordost on my digital.