Are DIY Cables Worth It?

I just read a listing in the classifieds titled "Vh audio CHeLA diy bulk speaker cable" that looked interesting. It claims to sell unterminated cable for $17.95/ft that would sound like $2000 cables when terminated.

Assuming I take the time and terminate the cables correctly, from what you see on their website is this cable worth my time? (Keep in mind that my time is not overly expensive, and I will never be able to spend more than $200 on speaker cables.)

Here is a site with more information about them:
I'm sure there are cables out there for 5 bucks a foot that claim to sound like 2000 dollar cables. I don't know that you place a dollar amount on cables like that.
Whether your asking from a performance or enjoyment standpoint only you can decide if it's worth your time. Are you considering it so you can save money and time or because they could sound like $2000 cables?

I built one Chris Ven Haus's Flavor 4 power cords because I wanted to learn, I thought it would be fun, and wanted to see how $180 in parts would sound compared to some of the other PCs I had at the time.

Before undertaking it, I thought the project would be worth it because I thought it would be fun. And it was.
Oh, I definitely think it would be fun as a project, but I also don't want to spend $100 on materials and 4 hours of time to get cables that sound as good as something I could have paid $20 for at Circuit City.

Here's the thing, I would like to have good quality cables, and I also think there would be added enjoyment from saying that I MADE those cables. I'm just wondering if from the technical specs on the web page they list you can tell whether I'll be making good cables that are worth my time or crappy ones.
Look up Jon Risch's posts on Audio Asylum DIY forum. There are some good examples. I've built some of the simple ones and they sound great. The thing is, you CAN go to bestbuy (not circuit city) and still get the AR blue cables that Sam Tellig raved about some time ago. And they ARE around 20 bucks a pair, all finished and ready to go. The satisfaction of making something yourself is something it's hard to put a price on. As is the satisfaction of finding something good, already made and cheaply priced. Anyway those are my experiences. Good luck!
48 hook-up wires in parallel? That would be fun to terminate. Don't get any of those confused on +/- because amps don't like shorts. At least it would look impressively thick with all that "secret" type of insulation.

For less than $200 (don't ask me how):

There's also 10/2 cabtire (SOW) for much less. 10/4 for biwiring.
I assembled a pair of the VH Audio Chela speaker cables you are mentioning. I spent some extra on nice WBT spade terminations with it.

It took me half an evening to put together due to the many wires to strip.

The sound is to my ears very neutral, and they replaced a pair of Acoustic Zen Satori cables, which are somewhat warmer sounding but the Chela cables sound more detailed and airy with more spacious sound.

I haven't auditioned any $2000 speaker cables but I can't imagine taking the Chela cables out of my system, they are I believe to be that good. I have a pretty resolving system with Yamamoto 45 SET amp and single driver Omega speakers and a Transporter music server.
It looks like the answer to my original question is no.
First I am not sure that $2000 cables necessarily implies better sound than $200 cables. More expensive yes.

Second, of course DIY cables with similar materials and properly terminated will sound the same as what you get from a manufacturer. There is no added magic at the is just a cable and a termination plug, hardly rocket science! Besides cables make only very slight differences (rarely audible if your gear is SS and with 8 ohm box speakers with no crazy impedance dips).
I beta tested the VH Audio speaker cables you're considering in the summer of 2004 and thought they sounded very good. Luckily they came to me already made so I didn't have to play audiophile crochet with them.
I have NHT 2.5 speakers and a Harmon Kardon AVR 240 receiver, so I doubt I would reap many benefits from super high-quality cables. Right now I'm using Monster cables, and I don't really have a problem with them, but from the things I read on different virtual systems about how "this cable made my system sound warm and sweet" and "that cable added a depth of philosophical knowledge to my system," I got curious about whether or not I needed some nice cables.

I like the poetic language, and I'm just wondering if good cables can persuade my ears into making me say things like that.
Go to the Cable Asylum and look up the reviews of VenHaus cables. VenHaus makes good products available to the audiophile 'masses'.

Cable matters but its quality must be in proportion to the system's quality: too good and it will start revealling a lot of flaws (both gear and recordings), not good enough well, not good enough.

For your system I'd definitely use something good, but not overboard. The mapleshade entry level speaker wire comes to mind:

Clearview Golden Helix

It is a single conductor, silver plated copper with minimum insulation. Good enough for present and forseeable needs.

Thank you for the recommendation on the Mapleshade cables; they look very promising.

I would like to address as assumption about price/quality ratio for this thread. For any general quality-level of speaker cable there are great prices, average prices, and premium prices. With my original question about whether DIY'ing these cables would be worth it or not, I guess I should be asking how much I would expect to pay (at an average price for the quality of speaker cable that is produced) for the finished version of these cables.

Everyone has been so helpful so far!
I guess I should be asking how much I would expect to pay (at an average price for the quality of speaker cable that is produced) for the finished version of these cables.
Nicely put! I can only answer that question regrading a particular cable -- not in absolute terms.

I use diy cables. For both ic & spkrs. My case is unusual in that diy replaces an expensive model fm a popular brand (Nordost Valhalla).

As to Chris Venhaus: he's an audiophile and much of the stuff he offers is very good (caps, for example). But, @$18/ft he's not the cheapest around; Mapleshade for one, is cheaper.

I would suggest you diy your IC for the time being.
Gregm, what do you have for DIY cables that may better Nordast Valhalla?
To answer your question, as in most things audio, it depends (on your components, budget, length of runs, and other factors). IME, DIY cables can give you pretty good sonics at a fraction of the cost of comparable new cables, if you want to put the time into it. As a guide, it would be my estimation that to move up significantly better than most of the well-received DIY cables, you would have to spend at least 5 times the parts cost of the DIY cables, or more. I have not heard the CHeLA speaker cable, but I do like the VH Audio power cords, and I have even tried some variations of those cords with success. The "Asylum" power cord using typical shielded SJT-14awg (typically Volex) cable is also pretty good, and the Volex 14awg cable with molded plugs (that you can buy economically through most electronics supply companies) will do better than almost all OEM power cords. For speaker cables, I have enjoyed the sound of Jon Risch's Cross Connected Belden 89259 cables, but they require a moderate amount of patience and skill to construct properly. A less expensive (and much easier to construct) alternative might be to simply purchase Canare Star Quad 4S11, connect them in a star quad configuration and terminate them with some good spades. Others like the home depot power/extension cord speaker cables, and CAT 5 speaker cables, although I would probably go for the CC89259 or Canare first. DH Labs cable also sounds pretty good, especially the Q-10 connected in a star quad configuration, and can be had used at very reasonable rates on Audiogon. The Risch interconnects using Belden cable (see his website) are good, and Chris Venhas' VH Audio fine silver interconnect has gotten excellent ratings here. Go have some fun.

I have not researched on the Vh stuff though I have seen the name tossed around some...I will have to check on that.

I made the best speaker cables for my entire 9 speaker home theater. They are suppose to compare to many high end. Google "bound for sound Marty 6 gauge". Its a six gauge that I paid 53 cents a foot recently (I bought the 500 foot spool) at Home depot. One guy told me he replaced his Acoustic zen Hologram 2 with it. The stuff brought my speakers alive. Very neutral.

The biggest thing I would like to do is put high quality stuff on all my subs. I have 3 and theres a lot of feet needed. So I have been looking at what I will do for DIY cables for those.
Gregm, what do you have for DIY cables that may better Nordast Valhalla?
Freemand, pls note that I use the wires and prefer them in the controlled context of MY system. So, I can't say in absolute terms that the wires "are better" than Valhalla...

As to what they are: simply paralleled silver and copper conductors @~1" apart, supported by masking tape (one side only). They are UNSHIELDED which may make the ICs unsuitable for other applications.

My recommed above was to try a tested diy recipe for ICs and perhaps buy the spkr cable ready made since it looks cheaper.
I've found the best cable you can do is use a solid core. Anything with strands just doesn't work nearly as well and adds it's own character or holds it back.

I ran down to home depot and bought some 14 gauge solid core wire (romex outdoor wire with the thick plastic covering it). I then put on some thick silver plated spades on the end and soldered it. Sound absolutely amazing. Much better than the $2400 MIT speaker wire I had. So much more detail and bass and imaging. I use 12 gauge solid core for the power cord. With a hubble end at the wall and wattgate at the other.

The only down side is it's extremely tough to bend. But it's well worth it. Looking at no more than $50 for a set of speaker cable. I'll gladly put it up against anything out there at any price. I used to have it all on a much higher end system but now even on my temporary system they make a huge improvement. Again I really want to emphasize solid core though (and throughout your whole system, including interconnects).
Kacz, that sounds intersting. I outta put that up against the 6 gauge 25 dollar home depot specials.

I always wondered if that would sound good. Do you put the hot and neutral together and run two lines of romax?
I've never even heard of solid core speaker wire, let alone considered using it. Is there a good place I can go to get a primer on the basics and intermediate knowledge about this stuff? It seems like just when I feel like I'm getting the hang of things, new stuff pops up.
I've never even heard of solid core speaker wire, let alone considered using it.
It's what I use (&describe) above: one 22-20g wire for hot & one for return (IC). That makes it UNshielded, "solid core" -- as opposed to many thin wires twisted together for hot and similarly for return ("stranded").
I am in the same boat, trying to find the answer to GOOD, QUALITY interconnects and speaker cables. Lately there is a "air" hiss from my Avalon Eclipses when I play LPs. It is not obvious while a track is playing, but between tracks and between LPs it is certainly there.
This concerns me more because I am considering a long interconnect run from BAT 3i preamp to Primaluna 7 mono amps (approx 30 ft) and short (1-2 meter) biwire speaker cables.
I have been using video cable i.e., 75 ohm shielded RG6, with Canare RCAs all DIY terminated. One poster said that "interconnects are supposed to be 50 ohms, not 75 ohms. I was not aware of such a difference, or that this may be a non desirable effect???
Should I replace my DIY interconnects?
IS my proposed 30 ft interconnect- pre tp amp, and short speaker cable- a good idea? Or is a long speaker cable, short interconnect, better?
BTW, Heyitsmedusty, I am not trying to hijack your thread, but this may influence your decision and shed some light on your decision especially if there is a particular ohm rating which must be considered with regards to interconnects.

When you say return you obviously mean the ground or the part of the rca that connects to the outter part of the female?
Yup, that's correct freemand -- the "neutral" part of the equation:)
I've experimented with doubling up and using heavier gauge for the return run of speaker cables and it's interesting how it impacts the sonic characteristics.

I still need to try the Home Depot extension cord speaker cable project, heheh.
Since speakers run on AC through the wires, how does one determine which is the 'return' run of the cables on which to use the double run? And how can that make a difference since the current direction changes up to 20000times a second?
I've experimented with doubling up and using heavier gauge for the return run of speaker cables and it's interesting how it impacts the sonic characteristics.

Go ahead, we're all ears...

Since speakers run on AC through the wires, how does one determine which is the 'return' run of the cables on which to use the double run?
You build a servo circuit which senses polarity and physically 'flips' the cable around, using super fast relays... :-)
But then who's to say what's the real (?!) "direction"... As though there is something like that... Well. most people would consider the "return" as whatever is connected to the common circuit ground, but even that is not true for certain amps (bridged, some monoblocks or transformer-coupled)...
I follow then rule of symmetry and the KISS concept. To really keep it simple there is nothing better than geometrical balance. It's the best I know AND it's simple alright...
That's funny, not having read this thread until today; I ran down to Home depot just this Monday to get 14/2 solid core copper wire, and some cheapo metal spades. I stripped the PVC covering, removed the ground wire, crimped the black/white wire with the cheap spades and connected to my SS amp, MF pre-amp, and my Proac. Crank the system up without even burning in the wires, and WOW! was my first reaction. I can clearly hear the difference, and what a difference. It sure beats the heck out of my other name brand cables I have. (Note that + and - are a single wire ran separately.) I really couldn't believe my ear, why the heck did I ever paid so much for other cables? BTW, it cost me $12.00 for 25 ft. The solid core is "Anti-cable"'s specialty, actually, they're pretty cheap for a 12 gauge speaker wire if you are not the DIY type.

Anyway, I was planning to make my own speaker wire using 20 gauge solid silver coated copper wires (Teflon coated). I’ll be adopting a variation of simplicity rules (Anti-Cable) as well as going for the thin braided wire. My target is 14 gauge to + and -, using 20 gauge, I have 16 wire to braid, 8 to + and 8 to – (Same number of conductors as Kimber 8TC). In fact, as I was reading this thread, my wires came in today. So I’ll start braiding tonight.

Cost per foot? I order 200 feet of yellow, and 200 feet of black, about $110 plus shipping. Divide that by two 12’ speaker cables for a total of 24 foot and you get $4.16 per speaker wire foot un-terminated. (With some leftovers to make jumper wires 8^) )

Will let you guys know how it goes and how it sounds!
This is an intersting thread.

As I mentioned above, I use a 6 gauge electrical wire from Home Depot that has 19 copper strands thats twisted. They are as Springowl said...I clearly here a difference. It was like a blanket was taken off the speakers.

I would be confident to put this or Springowls cables up agaist anything out there. It may or may not out perform them all but it will be comparable. And at $25 for an 8 foot pair it seems wise. Especially if you used 220 feet to wire a complete home theater. Do that math!

Theres a thread on misc. talk that slams tweaks like the clock, but what about these cable companys overcharging for cables that we can build for $25 and they charge $1500 for comparable sound. That seems like snake oil.
The "minus" i.e. the "ground" connector. The central pin is the "signal". As per RCA ever since the '30s if I recall. C'mon guys.
What I really like to know is the % of OFC contained in DIY wires such as your 12/2 or 14/2 home wires, zip cords, etc versus the name brand wires advertised by Cable Company that claims 99.997% OFC or whatever. Does that .9 percent really makes that big of a difference, I wonder? I have cut open old home electrical wires that are +35 years old, and the copper looks as shiny as the new ones without any oxidation at all. Heck, in 35 years our audio system may have changed three or four times already.
I think springowl that the ofc pertains to any copper that is exposed to air opposed to being protected in the wrap. I could be so wrong.
Sprigowl wrote:"I ran down to Home depot just this Monday to get 14/2 solid core copper wire, and some cheapo metal spades. I stripped the PVC covering, removed the ground wire, crimped the black/white wire with the cheap spades and connected to my SS amp, MF pre-amp, and my Proac. Crank the system up without even burning in the wires, and WOW! was my first reaction. I can clearly hear the difference, and what a difference."

I have some 12/2 BX from HD that I had cryo treated which I used for my dedicated line. Plenty left for speaker cables! Would be funny if they bettered my Van Den Hul Magnum Hybrid/CS-122Hybrid bi-wires, or would it? Hmm I think I'll continue tube rolling before starting a speaker cable shootout. Great thread! Enjoy!
Back in 1969 I used solid 14 gauge copper Romex for speaker cable, and it was a HUGE improvement over the 18 gauge zip cord everyone was selling for speaker wire.

Just like then, a "walk on the water" bargain for the buck.

If you guys are going into this, I can tell you It actually sounds better if two pair are assembled into a "quad" of conductors with two wires making up opposite sides of the pair, across the "square" of conductors.

In fact, it was not until 10 years after this experimentation, when Fulton, Peterson Engineering and Audioquest introduced their hot designs (about 1979) that I abandoned my home made stuff.

As with all things audio, the biggest bang for the buck is at the low end of the scale. That's true regardless if the discussion is comparing a Lenco turntable against a Rockport, an Oppo CD player against an EMM Labs or Romex cable against Audioquest, Cardas, Purist and Nordost.

If I had not done my experiments, I would have never appreciated the work that goes into truly great cable design. There's no doubt DIY cable can provide great sound, and no doubt is has no competition when dollars are added up.

I think this applies to most things in life, from cars to homes and even computers. Most of us have budget limits and must make financial decisions about what toys we can go crazy on.
Hey, "Listens2tubes", how did you "cryo" treat your cables? Did you had someone do this? What does "Cryo" treating add to characteristics of the wire anyway? I'm begging to see more of this more in some cable co. Is this just marketing hype or what?
Hi Springowl,

In answer to your question regarding purity, I have some experience to share. Over the last few months I have been testing some different wire purities and alloys. To my surprise I have not heard any significant difference between 99.995% pure silver, 99.95%, 99.5% and unbelievably 92.5% silver/7.5% copper (sterling silver). In fact my ears preferred the sterling over the high purities. I begin to wonder about the purity claims and their need to be so high. I do understand that ultra-pure silver and copper will tarnish less, but???

I have also had some rather interesting discussions with the refiner who claims they can not guarantee the purity of silver above 99.95% due to silvers tendency to pick up contaminants during the wire pulling process. They claim they could start with 5-nine silver, but the end wire product will not test out at that purity due to this tendency of silvers.

In the end, it all is a mute point. Whatever the claims and the true results, it's the resulting sonic quality that matters, not the metallurgy.

I'm begging to see more of this more in some cable co.

Sorry for the bad sentence, I meant to say "I'm begining to see more of this in some cable co."

Proper cryo treating removes midrange colorations and improves clarity, as well as extending the highs.
Just found this thread today, sorry about the delay. I'm still in the midst of auditioning the CheLa cable with my Art Audio Carissa Sig. and Merlin VSM-MM w/ superbam. Thus far in direct comparison (within present setup) I prefer the CHela to Synergistic Res. Ref and Synergistic Sig. 10's. The Res. Ref's silver simply doesn't work with Merlins in my system, way too thin, analytical, the Sig 10's (Syn top copper cable) are better but still a bit thin and perhaps a bit too fast. The Chela seems to slow the pace down a bit, much more natural sounding here. The Chela also has more stable imaging, the center is much more filled out (greater depth and image dimensionality) than the Syn. cables. I've also noticed a more musical presentation with the Chela, at first it seemed I was lacking some of the lower level detail I was hearing with the Syns, but with more time I began to hear a more continuous and phase coherent sound. Its as though the Syns brought up the level of background information to an unatural level, I think this may have played a part in the image instability I was hearing with those cables. The Chela better balances the lower and higher level details.
From my many auditions with tons of cables through the years I would describe the Chela as just slightly warm of neutral, I suspect with some setups there could be bass issues. All in all I believe the Chelas are a great value, easy but time consuming to build. Take your time, trim the individual wires to exactly the same length, use the Furutech or WBT spades, some techflex, Quicksilver Gold treatment, heat shrink and you will have good sounding and professional looking cables.
The real test of these cables will come this weekend, the standard cable for Merlins, the Cardas Golden Refs coming in for audition. Both the Chela and Golden Refs are copper litz cables, the design to use according to Bobby, we shall see.