Best $200 speaker cables for overall performance?

I am considering the Straley Reality cables, also ran across the Components Plus Audio Horizons speaker cables. Both are in the ballpark, pricewise.

These will be for a pair of Legacy Audio Classic speakers, which go down to about 25hz, so I do place a high value on LF extension and quality and slam. Currently, they are powered by a Nakamichi receiver at 120wpc.

Any other great speaker cables come to mind for this setup?

Thanks much for any input.
depending on length...look into: Naim NACA5, Nordost Blue Heaven, AuidoQuest BedRock, among others. Good luck.
Yeah a Matching center channel and a subwoofer.

Cables make almost no difference with your current system and I thought it was a Sony receiver?

$200 for cables in your situation is a waste of valuable $$$
My "stock" recommendation for speaker cable in your price bracket is Kimber Kable 4TC or 8TC. They have both been positively reviewed in many audio mags, and have proven compatible with a very wide range of systems. I can attest to their good performance having owned both for types for many years.

The other choice that is well worth considering is Alpha-Core Goertz MI2. You can learn more about these fine speaker cables from their Goertz Audio web site:
Second the Alpha Core Goertz MI-2 Veracity. Hard to beat at it's price point.
Alpha Core Goertz MI2 is the best easily in my experience that includes Kimber 8TC and Nordost Blue Heaven in the $200 used arena...
Yes, I also had heard great things about the Alpha-Core MI2, but there is some concern about impedance of the cable being a problem for certain amps. I don't know if this would likely be any problem for a standard receiver.


This is for an extra A/V system in the back room of the house. I am using it for some stereo music listening, and it currently has some old Monster speaker cables with what appear to be hundreds of strands, which I believe to be "smearing" the sound.

As to the Nak receiver, first, I am not in a position to replace it, and, second, it previously was used in the front system with the Legacy Signature IIs, connected with Tara Labs RSC speaker cables, and sounded quite nice. That is my rational for thinking I can improve my sound significantly with some better cables.
After I performed thousands of dollars worth of upgrades to my Father's system, I changed his speaker cabling. We went from some Audioquest stuff ( can't remember the model ) to Goertz MI-2 Veracity. Upon doing so, my Father exclaimed "that speaker cable made more of a difference than ALL of the other "upgrades" put together !!!". Needless to say, he was pretty happy with the results.

While the system did come to life and sounded FAR more natural than it ever had before, what really happened is that all of the other upgrades were being "stifled" by the old speaker cabling. Once some good cabling was installed, the benefits of all of the other upgrades could now be heard. As such, it "seemed" like the cabling made the biggest difference by itself, but it truly was a culmination of upgrades that led to the final event. Changing to the Goertz MI-2 Veracity's was simply the crowning achievement of it all.

As a point of reference, the speakers in this system were Legacy 1's, which was the fore-runner to the Classics. Bill Dudleston himself had assembled these for my Father. My Brother and I later modified them in drastic fashion. The improvements were even more staggering than all of the other system upgrades prior to that. Sean

PS... one should ALWAYS use the impedance compensation network that Goertz will supply free of charge for their speaker cabling, whether you think you need it or not.
Sean, you are about to convince me on the Alpha Core MI-2 Veracity!

Also, I would be very interested in your modifications of the Legacy 1s. Did this have to do with the capacitors?

If you are willing, I'd like to e-mail you regarding this.


Marc, Your Nak receiver may have amp circuitry borrowed from the Nelson Pass "stasis" design originally for classic Threshold amp. If so, there is a lot of quality ready to be unveiled by your speaker cables.
My own experience switching from Alpha-Core "Big Boy" MI-3 "Divinity" (I'm not making up their terminology!) to Reality is of a better "realism" due to more vocal and instrumental detail, and better three dimensional soundstage placement cues. My transmission line bass (down to 28Hz) has better texture and pitch definition.
Perhaps, the twenty day money back home trial offered by Gregg of Reality will tilt you toward trying it.
Alpha-Core is outstanding, yet the comparison favored Reality in my particular listening situation.
No problem Marc, go ahead and drop me a line. Just be a bit patient as i sometimes get more email than i know what to do with : ) Sean
I have signal cable speaker cables that I bought a few years back. I love the craftsmanship and the sound. There was quite a buzz around here a few years ago about them.

Awesome product at a great price in my opinion.
Tough to beat the MI2 sound for anywhere near the money. Do be aware that the MI2s can be a PITA to run and dress cleanly - could be a WAF thing if they are in plain view...
As a point of reference, I have always recommended the use of MI-2 Veracity's over the MI-3 Divinity's. The MI-3's are too low in nominal impedance for most systems, causing excess current to flow. Since most amps aren't up to the task, the end result is that they tend to "muddy" the sound a bit, losing clarity, focus and definition as compared to the MI-2 Veracity's.

All of this is due to the slightly higher nominal impedance of the MI-2's ( as compared to the MI-3's ), which adds a slight "buffer" to the what the amp sees. As we all know, the difference between just a few ohms ( at amplifier load / speaker level ) can make for a BIG difference in both performance and stability.

For that matter, the MI-2's may even be too low in nominal impedance for some really "anemic" amplifiers. If such is the case, then the next step would be the Goertz MI-1's. This is a 13 gauge cable, which is heavy enough for most short runs. By "short", i'm talking about 6' - 8' or so.

As with all of the Goertz cabling, i ALWAYS recommend using their impedance compensation networks, regardless of whether you or Goertz think you need them. Obviously, one must pick and use what they think works best in their system. After all, you're the only one that HAS to listen to it on a regular basis. Sean
OK, thanks for all the replies.

At this point, the two choices I am debating are the Straley Reality cables vs. the Alpha Core Goertz MI2. Both are getting great reviews in their price range.

Decisions, decisions...
Alpha-Core offers a generous free trial period with free Zobels!
Go with the Alpha Core, I have heard both and while the Reality Cables are very good, I prefer their ICs over their speaker cables.
Can anyone comment on the 'Zoble' or impedance compensation network ? I am using speakers that do not have a crossover network and have been advised , by the manufacturer , not to use any filtering type cables as they would 'color' the signal . The speakers are Reference 3a De Capo i .
The "impedance compensation networks" or "Zobel's" as supplied by Goertz are not wired in series with the signal. They are placed across the speaker terminals in parallel with the signal path. They only come into play at frequencies WAY beyond audibility and are only used to help stabilize the amp that they are connected to. These are in NO WAYS similar in design to MIT's, Transparent's or other cabling with networks of "filters" built in. Sean
IMHO, the Alpha-Core Goertz are probably the least likely of speaker cables to "'color' the signal", which you may or may not appreciate.
This is a valuable thread. Years ago I bought/tried a pair of new Goertz speaker cables MI ? (can't remember which model) to run between a Classe CA 200 & a pair of ML SL-3's & nearly fried my amp. As I remember at the time there was no mention of a 'zobel' when I bought the cables, only after I called & questioned the mfgr about this predicament. wish I had had this thread back then.
Sounds great , thank you .
One more, AH! speaker cables from Upscale Audio. For the price they make my system sing.
Once in a very rare while a set of Apex signature or Apex ICTL speaker cables will go on sale on Audiogon or Ebay for around this price or less if the seller doesn't know the brand or quality. If you can find them grab them. Ebay recently had a 15' pair for very little. I would have bought them but I already have 3 sets. Great power, open, neutral and huge soundstage. IMHO, I doubt you will find anything better at $1000+ .
I am curious of how the Analysis Plus Oval 9 would compare with the contenders mentioned, in particular the Alpha Core MI2 and Reality Cable. Some say the Oval 9 is affordable reference and depending on length if buy used may still be within reach of the poster's price range. Anyone has a chance to compare ?
I used the AP Oval 9's when they first came out. Ran them for well over 500 hours with music playing non-stop 24/7. They were connected to a high powered amplifier directly driving very low impedance, very low sensitivity full range speakers. There was no crossover to get in the way of what the amplifier produced and what the speaker tried to reproduce, making for the shortest, most direct path possible. That is, with the exception of "active" loudspeakers. Then again, one wouldn't need speaker cables for those anyway : )

Due to the very low sensitivity and very low impedance, i was forced to pass much more signal through the cabling than a normal person would have, just to get the speakers to "move". On top of that, these cables were previously used, so they had been "pre-conditioned" prior to my use. For how long or at what amplitude, i have no idea. In other words, these cables should have been "fully broken in".

After all of that, i found the top end of these cables to be phenomenally tizzy sounding. The treble was very smeared, bright and pronounced. On the other end of the spectrum, the bass was phenomenally weak, lacking in output and extension. The combo of these two gave me the effective sonics of a very large and high powered transistor radio. It was almost as if someone had taken a transistor radio, cranked the treble and turned down the bass. NO impact what so ever. To be fair here, the midrange was quite good and i didn't really have any major problems with it.

When i finally took the AP Oval 9's out of the system, my girlfriend ( at the time ) had just run up to the store and was not present. She had no idea what i was doing or what i was about to do. Upon returning back from the store, she walked into the room where this system was playing and asked "what did you do to the stereo?". I asked her "why do you ask that?". Her response was "because it sounds SO much better". In other words, changing the speaker cables in this system was HIGHLY audible, even under what were essentially "blind" listening conditions to a "non-audiophile". I can't remember if i had replaced them with some Goertz or if i was trying out some YBA Diamond speaker cabling at that time, but either way, whatever i replaced it with was FAR superior.

To be blunt, my opinion is that the AP Oval 9's were probably the most unlistenable speaker cables that i've ever had in my house. After hearing them at my house in my systems, i offered them to my Brother to listen to in his system to see what he thought of them. He refused and said that he was not going to waste his time. His next comment was that i should throw them out into the garbage, where they belonged.

Obviously, this is just my opinion, but YOU asked : ) Sean

PS... Wonder how many people / AP users i pissed off with that one???
"Wonder how many people / AP users i pissed off with that one??? "

Thanks Sean for sharing with us your experience.

Some wise men did say silence is golden but sometimes a little dissentient opinion helps.
i have legacy focus and im burning in a set of audioart sc5 speaker cables and they seem nice so far ,real cheap to
Thanks, let me know how the sc5s work out. I am currently using a set of Audio Art IC-1 ics on the system for which I am looking for speaker cables.
Reality Cables, by Greg Straley, by leaps and bounds.
Well, I have not yet purchased any cables for the Legacys, but I just yesterday received a single run of Alpha Core Goertz MI-2 speaker cable for my center channel speaker in the front system. The MI-2 replaces a run of Speltz anti-cables which have done pretty well.

I have only so far listened to one movie, but I do believe the Goertz are going to knock off the anti-cables. The highs are definitely cleaner and better. It actually seems like there is MORE high frequency information there, if that is possible. This is not to say excessive HF response, and I do not detect any added sibilance.

So, as a result of this improvement in the center channel speaker, I am leaning towards the MI-2 for the Legacys in the back system. The only fly in the ointment is that the center channel speaker only goes down to about 55hz, so I can't tell anything about the MI-2's deep bass prowess.

My main contenders are now the Goertz MI-2, Straley Reality cable, Audio Art SC-5, Audio Horizons, LAT International SS-800.

Any thoughts?
The Goertz will give you deep bass. If you like them in the center channel you will love them in the rest of your system. I compared them recently in my system to the Supra Sword cables that cost close to $1000. While I thought the Swords were excellent cables and did a lot of things right, they did not convince me to replace the Goertz.
I have heard some LAT speaker wire(do not know the model but around $400)that was absolutely pedestrian and the Goertz easily beat it.
If there is a Goertz home trial offer, and you like them a lot, then you can choose them, and own a great value in cables.
Otherwise, a Reality home trial will surely impress you, as it did me, directly comparing the two companies.
Although it is not possible to audition too many competitors in you stereo setup, it really is not better to add up votes for one or the other here on Audiogon. Only what is heard in your own unique setup is important.
Reality Cables.After having bought and used many hi end cables.I think they are a bloody steal, and makes me wonder why all the expensive cables. I still have expensive ic's and power cables but the speaker cable being the last cable in the chain it may also be the most forgiving.I really like them and by rights should have much more $$ % in my speaker cable.I have simple system but it was not cheap.But hey I really like the Reality cables,so a few other friends have them now.Christ they only cost a few tanks of gas.
Well, I picked up a set of Goertz MI-2, and briefly evaluated them over the weekend. They replaced a set of stranded Esoteric cables that I have had for many years.

The MI-2 is definitely clearer and more coherent. I think the timbral accuracy of instruments is better. I don't notice any more or deeper bass.

But the improvement is not as much as I had hoped. The soundstage and imaging is not very good.

It seems I have some other problems in that system. I need to get some acoustical treatments, and I need to figure out if the Nak receiver has gone bad(it used to sound pretty good in the other room). I also need to see if there is a problem with the Legacy Classics. I had been assuming, if I used better cables, they should perform similarly to my Legacy Signature IIs in the other room, but maybe that is not the case. The Sig IIs throw an expansive soundstage, with much greater imaging.

Perhaps I was overestimating the contribution of speaker cables to the overall sound result. If these Legacy Classics cannot sound significantly better than this, I am going to want to try something different.
Mtrot, I think your on the right track.
Why not try some MAS Signature Hybrid? Return them for a full refund if you're not satisfied. Stu Wein, owner of Audioparts, is one of the good guys in the hobby.

Remember me, I'm the guy who's been trying to help you on two threads fix your systems and expressly said cables 1. will not help your system! 2. You will not get good sound out of your surround system until your buy the matching Legacy center.

2 months later are you getting to see things my way?

Forget those other "experts" who didn't know enough to realise that a 15 year old Nakamichi is going to have some serious biasing issues that cause sibilance and slurring and your amplifier likely needs an overhaul right down to cleaning the contacts on the volume control. 200 cables, oxidized volume control= bad sound

Mtrot, I'm wasn't trying to be contrary I am trying to save you MONEY and have you INVEST in areas that will make a REAL difference with both your systems. So now you know what I already knew....cables aren't that big of deal. Especially when you amplifier is out of spec.

Fact is with a Nakamichi and Legacy $1/ft Monster Cable will do the trick. get your Nak tuned up, and back to the MUSICAL bliss with $20 in cables. Can you bear to be different, can you bear to be smarter?

If you own a receiver do not waste money on expensive cables! no exceptions

I saw a Legacy Center channel on Ebay for $350...go! go ! go!
D_Edwards: I have several pieces of audio gear that are 20+ years old that still measure within spec and sound quite good. Age has little to do with actual performance so long as the unit has been used on a regular basis and hasn't been thoroughly abused and / or in a severe environment. Regular use not only keeps the caps energized, but problems related to thermal drift are also minimized. Simple rotation of the controls and flipping of the switches i.e. "normal use" also helps to keep oxidation and pitting from damaging said controls.

Other than that, my suggestion as to speaker cables were for the long term. That suggestion was also made in response to a specific question that someone had posted.

As a side note, just because someone is using "Brand X" gear today, that doesn't mean that they will be using that tomorrow or in two years. I know that the cables that i recommended can work quite well with these speakers and are capable of revealing what the electronics up-stream are capable of. Whether or not one likes what they hear with these cables in the system will depend on how pure & stable the signal is being fed into the speaker cabling and / or the end users own personal preferences.

As such, improving the signal fed into it these speaker cables will improve the performance of the system as a whole. I make mention of this as not all speaker cables are capable of revealing the differences in components, simply because the cables themselves introduce their own sonics and electrical loading characteristics into the equation. Should Mtrot ( or anyone else in this situation ) choose to upgrade their components, there would be no need to upgrade their cabling. After all, this cable has been shown to be linear to well beyond 100 KHz, offering minimal signal degradation within or anywhere near the audible passband.

Other than that, i agree that one should have "timbre matched" speakers at all points in a multi-channel system. I also think that one should have "timbre matched" amplification at all points in a multi-channel system. That's why i took the approach that i did with my multi-channel system. Sean

I really do appreciate your efforts to assist my hapless self! The cables under consideration in this thread are for another system in the back room, which has Legacy Classics for the L/R, along with a Legacy "Satellite" for the center speaker. The Nak receiver is about 5-6 years old, and seemed to sound pretty good in the other system with the Legacy Sig IIs.

I am now considering several possible culprits as to why the sound is not so good(poor soundstage and imaging) in the back system:

Room reflections/bad room dimensions.
52"RPTV between speakers.
Panny RP91 DVD/DVD Audio player(one of the first DVDAudio players) player as source.
Nak receiver problems.
Legacy Classics not nearly as good as the Signature IIs.

As I said, the Goertz cables do seem to improve the sound noticably over the stranded cables. But nothing like what I am getting in the other room system.

As far as the Nak receiver's volume control, what kind of shop can address the issues you mention?
Mtrot, just curious, did you try the Goertz cables in the better room?
That's a good question Unsound. Glad you thought of it : )

The Sig II's and the Classic's have different bass alignments. As such, they will not only sound different, but also load the amp differently. Both designs ( in stock form ) have a pronounced bass peak at a relatively high frequency ( 90 - 120 Hz ), so room placement and nodes can really come into play. This is besides any other speaker / room interphase situations taking place, which can also effect imaging, soundstage, etc...

Due to the difference in loading on the amp, the Classic's may simply require more than what your receiver can cope with. You might want to try swapping both the speakers and speaker cables in your main system and see how things work there. If you can get the results that you want with either set of speakers and / or either set of speaker cables in the main system, then you know it has to be room and / or "power" related in the secondary system. Sean

No, not yet. I have a bi-wire set of Tara Labs RSC Prime(at least 10 years old) in there, which have always sounded pretty good to me. I have been thinking about trying the MI-2s, bi-wired, in there to see if they can make a significant improvement over the Taras. But I would have to shell out another $200, which is a lot of bread to me, in order to find out. I guess I could try them as a single run, just to hear the basic sound differences.
Mtrot, may I remind you that Alpha-Core has a very generous trial period. You could try another run, and see if it works for you. If it doesn't, all you'll loose is a very modest (heck, cables don't weight much) shipping fee, if you decide that you like them, you can sell your existing cables right here on Audiogon. In the mean time, just putting on jumpers and running one run, might be interesting. While I am a big fan of the Alpha-Core cables, my experience mirrors yours. They don't accentuate the bass, but, boy oh boy, do they really open things from there on up. I don't think just substituting cables in an effort to mimick another system in another room is very realistic. Best of luck. Keep us posted.
Mtrot, I have some first-hand experience with some of the mfgrs you're inquiring about. Based on massive research from Audiogon threads I decided to check out Audio Horizons and Reality Cables.

Audio Horizons
Met Joseph Chow. He invited me to his home on a Saturday morning to listen to his pre-amp and DAC. I think he makes good equipment, and I liked the way his equipment sounded -probably the most articulate sounding pre-amp I've heard. At the time, I chose not to purchase his gear, but my decision was based on his ability to support the product given the growth stage of his little company (fledgling) at the time. But Joseph seems like an honest and respectable guy, and I absolutely would do business with him. I listened to his cables (balanced and unbalanced) in his system, and they were good. As I haven't listened to the cables in my system, I really can't give you a good reference point. But I do think his cables positively contributed to the overall sound quality of his system. I can give more specifics in email if you like.

Reality Cables
Based on audiogon threads, I had truly high hopes. I ordered interconnects and speaker cables based on blind audiogon faith. These cables completely took the life right out of my system. I had multiple sets of both interconnects and speakers cables. All performed equally poorly. Gregg sent more cables (burned in, SS specific, balanced, etc). Same result. Terrible performance. I tried every imaginable combination. Same result - terrible. I sent everything back.

It took months to get most of my money back, and to get Gregg to honor his "20 day money back guarantee."

Terrible experience.

Email me if you want specifics.

Trialed a pair of name brand cables from my local high-end hi-fi dealer -viola!

At least I'm not losing my mind.
Mtrot, I don't know if you are done looking but I am having tremendous results with the Reality cables. They are extremely revealing. Well balanced top to bottom and a steal at there price point. In my system they really grabbed me. I changed one power cord and noticed the effect right away. I went to a 10 awg shielded power cord on the cdp and these speaker cables let me know I went in the right direction. I will be considering putting some good money into power cords now.
May I second the comments of Jp1208 as I have used with great success Reality IC's and Speaker Cables in five different systems (different systems at different times).
Impressive in all five. You get to really hear what your components can do.
I realize Angelsmtn reports a different view. My own experience has been favorable. There is a quiet background with reproduction that can be described as full of life and overall a tremendous performer.
Each person can listen, and make up his/her own mind.
Another source of information about Reality is the Audiogon dealer, Clearsound, for those who realize it is always in the interest of a dealer to approach audio shows with their best wiring.
Angelsmtn, what cable do you use?
I'm with JPL1208 and Listener57 on this one. My Reality speaker cables (shotgun bi-wired, 10') have replaced other high end cables that I owned (Cardas Gold Ref, Audience Au24s, and Purist Venustas), and I have never loooked back. There is a reason why they are called "Reality". Check it out for yourself.

Gregg's service has been A-1 in my book, and I would not hesitate to buy from him him again.
Angelsmtn, I am also interested in the cables you chose over Reality cables and the differences you heard between the two. Are they cheaper or more expensive? They should at least be in the $200-$300 range. A named brand speaker cable better than the Reality cable in this price range? You have my attention!