Are expensive cables worth it?

The cost for interconnects ect. are way out of hand! I understand $200-400 cables, but do $2000-4000 cables sound 10x better? I know we are all dropping big coin for that final 10% of music not heard on 'mid-fi' systems, but are the cables the place to find it? I'd rather save the $ and upgrade my speakers or amps first, am I crazy or what?
Room treatment will be a much better place to spend money also. There's a reason on some forums the dbt between wires isn't allowed to be discussed. The differences are so subtle with wire that speakers and room acoustics offer a far better return on your investment. Of course it's to each his own. I'll save my money as I've had several IC's loaned to me and can't hear enough of a difference to bother, maybe no difference. These IC's were from 50 bucks a pair to 300 a pair, no difference that I can hear. Same with speaker cables. My system is extremely resolving btw.
You are not crazy at all. Unless you are in need of some tone controls (frequency bending cables) the differences between quality cables and IC's should be and are very subtle, where as the choice of speakers & amp are anything but subtle. I agree with Warnerwh - optomize your room and present speaker/amp (or future speaker) set up first, then revisit cables and IC's. They are the final tune and high cost doesn't insure high value.
When your equipment is revealing enough that cable differences are significant rather than marginal, then the cost is worth it. And the most expensive cables aren't necessarily better than cables from the middle of the line: you have to listen. In my case the investment in Transparent and Elrod cables took place after intensive and extensive sessions of comparative listening, and the differences were not subtle.
I agree with Swlein. I think it depends on where you are with the sonics of your present system. If at this point you are well pleased with the system overall, then finding the right cables may be just enough to put your system over the top.

If, on the other hand, you still have quite a journey to go with your system, you may hear little to no difference with different cables regardless of the sonic abilities of the cable. I'm staying away from using the word 'price' because I just sold my fairly highly rated $1800 speaker cables for superior sounding cables that cost me $120 (for a full bi-wire set) new and included shipping.

And though I was quite pleased with my fairly well regarded ics, I tried just one pair of the far more expensive Jena Lab Valkyres between my source and pre. At first, there was no difference, but after a few days of burn-in, the sonic improvements in certain areas were far from subtle and well worth the price increase.

when you clear your head and really concentrate on the music, at least certain types of music (for me, baroque massed strings, or solo violin, a harpsichord, or a piano that's well recorded), the attack and decay, the "rosin on the bow" becomes more apparent as your system improves. or, you ("i") can listen less intently and miss it just as easily. good cables enhance the effect, but once again, you can't experience it with a magazine in your hand, or even a glass of wine or "whatever". it requires a certain focus that took me a very long time to develop. it can be very exciting and satisfying, but you also have to put monetary issues aside at one point.
A bottle of wine in some of the high-class night clubs of NYC would run above $200 while in liquer stores it's $20 max and ordinary italian or french restaurant would sell it probably for $40.

A class may be higher but the content is the same.
Whoever visits the high-class clubs probably doesn't care whether it's $200 or $20...
No, you're not crazy -- you are right on.
Marak's analogy is well-stated.

Consider the success of a cable maker such as Signal. No-nonsense, well-engineered, great sounding cables that work for many/most of us. Last word in resolution? Probably not. But you cannot deny the impact of guys like Frank which he well deserves. 775 xactions, 100% positive feedback. Element, VH, MAS and LAT all dovetail into this category as well. Bettercables, blue jeans cables, homegrown, etc.

If you DIY cables, the aroma of snake oil is overwhelming, at least to this probocis.
Buy recordings, they, at least, all sound different and some are actually quite good! "Subtle" is code for "non-existant".
IMHO, very few things in the audio world is worth it. But niether is a 60K car. When you look at the price of some cables it's hard to justify. I have found in audio that for the most part you get what you pay for up to a certain limit. When I upgrade hardware and cables usually paying more has bought me a cleaner, quieter, richer sound. I try upgrading one component at a time so as to make sure that I can hear / percieve the difference. The best way to tell if something improves your system is to work with a dealer that will loan you the gear or cables. I find that when you are not committed to something you can be more objective because you have nothing to lose. When I've purchased something I pretty much had to acknowledge that it was an improvement or admit that I made a mistake or was taken. I really appreciate the establishments that allow you to take something home and hear it in your enviroment. With that said usually a 1K cable will present something in your system that a 100.00 cable won't. Providing your system is at the level that subtle changes can be appreciated. In other words if you have cheap components adding expensives cables will not make much of an improvement. If you have high quality gear not just expensive, good cables should make a difference. One last thing, now that most systems don't provide bass / treble adjustment besides tuning the room the only other way to tune the system is with cables. So if your system is dull or bright by carefully matching cables you can acheive the desired sound. If we all stop buying expensive cables will the prices come down?
There really are two questions here.

1..Do details of wire construction, other than adequate copper size, make a difference?

2..If "Yes" to question 1, does "properly" constructed wire require absurdly high cost?

I am undecided about question 1, but for question 2 the answer is NO.
Sometimes....sometimes not.Paul Speltz Anti-Cable just replaced the Audience Au 24 in my system.The Speltz cable is MUCH cheaper and sounding better.
Why do you "understand" $200-400 cables? I mean (wink, wink) shouldn't a SOTA cable only really cost $100/meter, right? You would think so! But it doesn't seem to pan out that way. BTW, my cables cost $100/meter by coincidence (not because I think that's the ceiling for good cables!!!), but so far all of the dealer demos and used audiogon cables in my system have not been able to best the synergy of what I currently have. It's left many 'a dealer scratching his head. But when I do heard better, I will probably save up and upgrade to them.

To summarize, yeah expensive cables (within your means!) are worth "it" but _only_if_ they give you the synergy you need. Else they're just another "$20-bottle-of-wine-marked-up-to-$200." without the synergy? No way! I will pay the difference between a "flat sounding" system and one that sounds "full of life." Sign me up. :-)

A better way to approach the question might be to identify a particular expensive cable and then ask, "what does this cable do that would be worth the asking price?"

Pick any $1,000 cable and tell me what it does to justify the price.

Not just an anecodtal explanation, "it removes all the veils," etc.

I mean, a scientific explanation.

What does it do to the signal to justify the price.

Or, even better, what *can* an expensive cable do to the signal it is fed to justify a price of $1,000+?

Rsbeck, cables aren't priced based on "scientific merit" they are priced based on "what the market will bear." :-/ But again, (for example) what if the most "synergetic" cable costs $1k? If someone has the means, why not by it?

But if you are asking about construction, materials, science, et al., yeah, I don't see why these things should cost more the say $100/meter. But heck..