Best interconnects & speaker cable? I don't get it

I don't know if there is a question here but I'm posting this to see if there is something I'm missing or overlooking in this observation. To the point, I've read many posts arguing the benefits of one or more conductors over others and I almost understand some discussions regarding, at least, comparisons of wire gauge for speakers. Maybe it relates to my less than well developed ability to discern subtlities in sound quality but I really can't hear much, if any, difference between interconnects or speaker cables.

As an example, I was recently experimenting with an amplifier selector (Niles DPS-1) which can accommodate a max of 14AWG speaker wire. In doing so I had to disconnect my existing cables which are "high end" 12 gauge per leg bi-wires. In making this comment I realize that just because my old wires are big and expensive does not necessarily mean they are the best match for my system or even any good. But...even though I think I am able to hear some small difference between them, to say that I think one is better than the other would be a stretch.

It seems to me that there are factors that would logically lend to the issue of quality, the primary of which would be conductor resistance and/or impedance. However, for transmission of line level signals, I can't see impedance as a significant factor.

All that being said, I believe that some listeners with acutely honed abilities can actually hear these differences and, in a way, I am somewhat glad that I don't; It makes wire choices much easier and way less expensive.

My current system consists of Shanling S-100 CD player, CALSigma 2 DAC, Rogue Audio Sphinx and Martin Logan Odyssey speakers with various interconnect and speaker wires.
I would suggest reading some of the cable articles on Blue Jeans Cable website and also TNT Audio.
This is a response to the original question.
I have done the following with a friend a few times and afterward we both felt we had learned a great deal:
Using my system (at a retail cost of $30k it's probably at least adequate for this experiment) we inserted one pair of ICs of 'inferior' reputation and cost into the system and listened for several minutes with a small variety of variously instrumented music.
Then we replaced the first set of cables with another set of more costly type and listened to the same material all over again. We tried to identify the differences we perceived and took note of them. If one or both of us decided he preferred one set over the other, this too was duly noted.
Now the critical part of the experiment:
One of us left the room and the other inserted one set of ICs and the other auditioner auditioned, trying to identify which set of cables was in play. Then the same was repeated with the cables switched, the listener again leaving the room while the switch was made. (This only works if the test subject cannot eyeball the cables, which is cheating.) Again, listener tries to decide which cable is which.
We then repeated this whole rigamarole with the experimenter positions reversed. Now the second subject listens to both sets of ICs and tries to identify the 'better' cable or, at the least, what the differences are.
Last of all, one fellow either changes cables or not and the other one tries to decide if the cables in a pair of 'switches' are the same or different.
This, of course, is a classic 'single blind' test setup. If it seems a bit grueling, spread the tests out over a few sessions to avoid fatigue.
I think your results may be illuminating and have the potential to save you a lot of money over the years.
My friend and I, both experienced listeners and one, myself, a musician who has performed on both rock bass and classical clarinet with 50 years of 'hi-fi' listening experience, agreed that we COULD NOT, with any regularity AT ALL, be certain even that the cables had been switched in the last step, much less that differences between them were possible to detect no matter how often we tried the experiment.
Admittedly, the 'cheap' cables we have used are usually not that cheap (about $80/meter pair) so you could say maybe there is a baseline. True enough; but it seems, if that's the case, there may be nothing to gain from spending more than the baseline.

I know that many people (who refuse either to participate in blinded tests or refuse to accept the clear results of the tests of others) claim they can hear reliable and sometimes extremely subtle differences in cables and we know that some folks can, for instance, identify with dead accuracy the difference between, say, a 1948 Gibson Jumbo and the 1949 version; but such folks are very rare and as a rule have outstanding and well known musical skills. When Audie O. Phile claims his $10K gold plated ICs have, for instance, greater detail than the $100 copper ones, and you have to decide if his head is in the right place, how do you judge? If Ry Cooder says he wants that 1948 Jumbo and not the 1949 Jumbo, well, maybe he's kidding himself--but he's Ry Cooder so I tend to want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Even then, though, I'm not so sure I'd pay more for one than the other without trying out both of them myself. But what about Audiobill from Omaha? If you actually performed the experiment I described and, without cheating, actually found you could hear a difference and preferred one over the other, then I say you are not wrong to spend more money.
BUT--you have performed a different experiment already and have come up with useful results (after all, it is not bloody likely that you would be able to hear a difference in blind testing that you couldn't hear when you actually knew you had changed cables). If you ever hear something that makes you think you have detected a difference, try my experiment with the involved cables (or components, for that matter) and see what happens.

My favorite saying, with I believe much greater wisdom and usefulness than most other capsule guides to life, is, "Don't believe everything you think!"
It is not only a handy tool for self-correction but, in the long run, its judicious application could save you a lot of money.

One last note: Admittedly it is more fun, if you love audio, to believe in subtle meaningful differences so you can forever play the improvement game. And I don't want people not to have fun. But fun combined with knowledge is all the better.
You're trying too hard. Experimenting with the Niles isn't helping any either. Putting that in changes the sound of the system. Most people can hear some differences between cables but it doesn't always happen right away. I couldn't for a long time but now I can easily hear differences. Its one of those things that once you hear it the first time, it becomes easier.

Whatever you do, don't force the issue. Reading reviews and comments by other people is tempting, but if you're not sure, don't make any investments in cables. The safest way to do it is use The Cable Co. I mentioned them in your other thread. They will send you a bunch of cables to demo. If you don't see the value, you don't have to buy anything.

Either way, you have a really nice system. As long as you cables are OK and working, it should sound pretty good.
Hey, if you can't hear any differences between cables, count your blessings and save your money, I envy you.
Broadstone, yours is probably the most reasonable, evenhanded and non-judgmental post that I have read from someone not sure of the benefits of cables. As has been pointed out don't sweat it too much and "don't force the issue". My suggestion would simply be that if you do want to experiment try the various cables for extended periods of time and not switch back and forth quickly and frequently. Then, see if patterns emerge as far as your enjoyment of the music. Did you notice a particular lyric that you never paid attention to before? Do you find yourself tapping your foot to a particular tune more than usual? "Hey, I never heard that background vocal? Etc... If you can answer yes to any of those questions in relation to a particular cable, then you have found the better cable.
Every cable sounds different in every system and every room.
I've changed tuners and made the IC on my CD sound worse.

The most important variables, IMO, are unknown and most likely
unknowable. Cut and paste, ladies.
Thanks, Rpfef, for sharing this. It is in step with suspicions that I have gradually developed on my own over my 50+ years of involvement in this hobby. A few years ago I tried a less comprehensive listening test which was inspired by a friend who is an avid and dedicated hobbyist. He claimed that I would easily be able to tell the difference between my $400 speaker wires and his "high end" $3000 + cables.

We used his system because it was easy to walk around and, while listening to my music selections, he switched wires between the speakers. We started with my wires and switched to his and my first impression was that, although subtle, his seemed to be a bit warmer, a quality that I prefer. We then went to blind testing and, not having the psychological influence and expectation that these more esoteric wires should be better, I could not tell the difference; we switched places and the results were the same.

We didn't try comparing interconnects but I suspect the results would be similar. Granted, we did not use the worst or best wires available if price is a significant factor in this evaluation, and, maybe if we had compared something like tiny gauge telephone wire to even my wires, some difference could be heard and I expect that this would be the case.

In the end I don't want to give the impression that I believe, as I've read here on Audiogon posts by others, that speaker wire should be considered nothing more than an electrical conduit. I'm simply saying that what I believe to be quite subtle differences between wires of various size, composition and construction, is beyond my ability to discern and, as I said previously and commentated on by Jmcgrogan2, this "deficiency" in my ability to do so makes my choices much less expensive.

That being said, although I'm pretty happy with my system overall, I will probably not completely abandon the quest. I just won't be obsessed by it.
I don't know about anyone else, not having ever been anyone else, but things sound different to me with my eyes open or shut.
If I turn the lights off at night, the volume seems to go up as well.
For years I couldn't tell the difference between wire - until I sorted out the rest of the system. That includes the room, vibration, recordings, system quality and system synergy. Once everything got working, cables had a much bigger impact. Some are more involving, others less. Not saying it justifies the expense for everyone, just sayin'.
My personal experience is that A/B tests often show little difference, but differences do become apparent with extended listening.
Schubert (are you Death or are you The Maiden?) if your stereo 'seems' louder when it is dark in the room, surely you can see that as evidence that non-acoustic factors can seriously affect our auditory perceptions. That alone should make you at least wonder how 'real' any of the subtle differences you, and others, hear are. As long as you know what's playing, self-deceptive desires and prejudices can easily enter the equation. Blind testing is the only known method for removing listener prejudgments.
I suggest, especially if the amounts of money involved are substantial, that you actually grab a friend and have him or her switch components as I have outlined in my first post above. If you pass the test, if you find you can, without knowing what you are listening to, reliably tell the difference, then you will have reason to feel confident you are not just 'believing what you think' against the evidence.
But if you fail, as has virtually everyone who has ever tried this experiment, you will have gained important insight into not just audiomania but also into the workings of the human mind.
Adding to my last post, I too hear and have always heard phenomena such as Schubert describes. Once I noticed that the system sounded 'better' when I switched around some particular cables . Then I noticed it sounded better again when I returned the cables to their original positions. Huh? This is known as psycho-acoustics, a well known phenomenon in which auditory perceptions are influenced by non-acoustic factors. I learned over the 55 years since I assembled my first system that any number of things, known and apparently unknown, can affect my sense of what I am hearing. That alone meant that I would be foolish to accept necessarily as true whatever I hear. If my system sounds better or has 'more detail' or a 'deeper soundstage' with my eyes closed ( so I KNOW that nothing has physically changed but the orientation of my eyelids) why should I believe that I am hearing real difference without the kind of objective verification available (admittedly only approximately) through blind testing.
This pursuit of sound is an expensive habit, potentially causing some people serious financial difficulties. Obsessing over a set of wires you can't afford to the point of blowing the kids' lunch money on it since you think they 'improve' your sound is a sure sign of addiction and that alone can seriously color your perceptions.
If you want to have at least a little basis for trusting (or not) what you hear the simple single-blind test I have described is not only fun but it might seriously symplify your life.
IMO the problem with cables is they all (usually) work.
Cheap, hardware store wire, esoteric frowfrow.. doesn't matter.. Big wires skinny wires.. all work.
Some work beter than others.. SOMETIMES.
So it is all a crapshoot.
I have midpriced gear. ($35,000) and I call it mid line..
So I can play with wires. I find some cheap eBay silver plated milspec wires to be almost as good ad $30 a foot speaker cable..
Right now I am playing with various Kimber bulk wire. They go well with the Cardas Parsec I got for my sources and such. I need a 6m XLR and am sorting out which wire combo I want. I can say the Parsec was not useful at 7m XLR. (mainly as it is NOT designed to be used XLR. though it can get away with it for 1 or2 meter lengths.)

I really would say no one can tell you what is 'right' for any system. You have to play around. Some advice may be worth a bit,and other advice is crap. Sometimes wire matters.. other times makes no damn difference at all.
So all in all it is a big mess.
Worth fooling around in it though.
PS if you are confused. Stick to the big names. and not too much money in wires.
Rpfef, I'm death.
You are dead wrong. What it proves is in a human brain sight and sound are interrelated , in a way/ways we have no knowledge of.
"Evidence" is for trials, human heart and soul are for music.
There are more things in heaven and on earth than we can dream of, to paraphrase an English gent.
And there are things worse than second-guessing yourself,
but not many.

No need to warn any of us about our spending habits, any "phile knows in his heart of hearts we all have more than a touch of OCD.
I took up audio to kick heroin myself .
Liz, what does the Cardas Parsec IC offer that the less expensive Kimber Cable Hero does not?? I know each system is different. I was surprised that KK offers such reasonably priced IC's

Broadstone and I own the same Rogue integrated amp which I have not yet reached a final opinion. However, ML Odyssey speakers may require a IC for his Shandling/DAC setup that offers a broad soundstage to offset the narrow sweetspot effect that ML speakers are notorious.

Speaker cables: Mapleshade internet store's "Double Helix" ; Clearday's Double silver shotgun; KK's 12TC; or Crimson Cable( only one model)Mapleshade and Crimson have established return policies. Also, consider Audio Art SC5E. AA "may" have a newer model. Check their site for details.. Lastly, Signal Cable and Dave's Cable are supposed to be very good and are quite reasonable in price
****The most important variables, IMO, are unknown and most likely

****"Evidence" is for trials, human heart and soul are for music.****

I wholeheartedly agree with those two comments. It is human nature to want "evidence"; as is difficulty accepting the unknowable. It is unfortunate how often the search for evidence causes one to shortchange the music.
They should come up with a dead horse punching bag for audiophiles. If room size is a problem, just the head will do. You can put it on an audiophile approved stand.

All the best,
03-04-14: Nonoise
They should come up with a dead horse punching bag for audiophiles.

Have no fear Nonoise, the same questions will be asked again next week, next month, next year. ;^)
To Nonoise and Grogan. Yes, I am sure the question will be asked again, and then again. HOWEVER, I have a box with about 15 pairs of IC dating back to 1988. They are NOT
as expensive or anointed as the IC's of other members; but, they are worth about $18.47, that is approx. what the Cable Company offered me for 7 of the 15 different pairs about 2 years ago. Now, they are probably worth about $9.00

As I have noted before, and reconfirmed it after today's online browsing. The Cable Co. or Used Cables are not going to have every brand loaner for the rituals of trial and error. Also, some cable brand dealers are not into either swapping with cash to upgrade, or offer a 30 day "piece of mind" return policy. Unless, you know the owner well, or are pledged to marry his 300lb daughter

My humble stash of IC's at their original retail is approx. $1400-$1600. Next Christmas, I intend to include one in every gift box . Candy gets the Synergistic Research, the girlfriend's lingerie medley wil be accompanied by the Audio Magic Spellcaster II ( very Freudian). Nordost's Red Dawn Flatwire goes to Santa Claus as a dress belt. A meter and a half should work well for him.
I have a couple of extra pairs of interconnects laying around Jim, but for the most part, I sell them when I am done using them. I don't let them sit in a closet until they have no value. Keep the winner, sell the loser. I've gone through 7 pairs of speaker cables in the last year alone, I currently only have 2 pair, I've sold the rest. I've lost track of how many interconnects and power cords.

I find that using the Audiogon buy 'n try method works better for me than using The Cable Company, as I tend to lose less money. However, you do have to sell the cables you are not using for this method to be successful. If you are a herder, buy 'n try is a bad idea I suppose.
+1 :-)
Its only money , not something really important like a new Purcell album .
Or reminding yourself to send an equal amount to Doctors without Borders or the Child Fund.
Frogman, what I've noticed is that most people, including me,
tend to make things that are only difficult, into something
much more complicated than it really is.
Easier to rationalize not doing it.
"I find that using the Audiogon buy 'n try method works better for me than using The Cable Company, as I tend to lose less money. However, you do have to sell the cables you are not using for this method to be successful. If you are a herder, buy 'n try is a bad idea I suppose."

I used to think that type of thing was good, but have since changed my mind. Before we had things like Ebay and Audiogon to use as resources, you had to be much more careful. When you can't get rid of a component easily, cables or otherwise, you tend to put a lot more effort into getting it right the first time. The internet makes it too easy. I think its the biggest problem in audio today. People are getting lazy and making bad choices because of it. Its a cycle that feeds on itself. I see a lot of people getting sucked into audio because they hear the potential, but they lack the skills and experience too get all the variables right.
03-05-14: Zd542
I used to think that type of thing was good, but have since changed my mind. Before we had things like Ebay and Audiogon to use as resources, you had to be much more careful. When you can't get rid of a component easily, cables or otherwise, you tend to put a lot more effort into getting it right the first time. The internet makes it too easy. I think its the biggest problem in audio today. People are getting lazy and making bad choices because of it.

Huh? I don't know that we were "getting it right the first time", by limiting our options. I would maybe call it settling easier for the limited options that we had before the internet. Yes, I didn't rotate gear as frequently in the 80's and 90's as I have in this century. I don't think of it as I got it right back then, there was less movement because the options were much more limited.

However, if you feel that limited options help get it right for you, well there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs to find their own path.
"Huh? I don't know that we were "getting it right the first time", by limiting our options. I would maybe call it settling easier for the limited options that we had before the internet. Yes, I didn't rotate gear as frequently in the 80's and 90's as I have in this century. I don't think of it as I got it right back then, there was less movement because the options were much more limited.

However, if you feel that limited options help get it right for you, well there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs to find their own path."

I don't think I did a good job getting my point across in my last post. It was just a general comment, not aimed at anyone in particular. All I was trying to say was that resources on the internet can make things "too easy", for lack of a better term. Many people have the attitude where if they buy something at a good price, they can sell it if they don't like it. Its a reasonable strategy and I'm not saying its a bad one. I just think that in doing it that way, most people learn less about audio. Before the internet, mistakes were much more costly. Because of that, there was more motivation to make the best choice possible when shopping for components. That's why I say you learn more.

But that's just my opinion and I know it doesn't apply to everyone, and every situation. Can I be wrong? Absolutely. I've been wrong more times than I can count; and I'm pretty good at math.
Sounds like you make good sense to me.
As you can see from systems shown on here, many folks are quite wealthy and need not concern themselves about cost.
As you say, just different circumstances.
I was just reading through a different thread and found a good example of the point I was trying to make. I know some of the people on this thread saw it because some of you responded with posts of your own.

"I am not arguing whether a certain cable is worth X amount of dollars, but what the cables actually sells for in the market.

Some threads on the cable forum can go on for pages and pages, where the participants kind of keep to them selves the purchase price. When asked, the usual answer is " contact the manufacturer/company". It seems they dont want to hurt the company by telling the truth, or they believe they were the only ones that got that "special price" But who are we kidding?

I know i can do some homework by finding how much the cables sell for second hand, but some brands dont come on the market much. These products often discussed among members, but no much turnover second hand. Even when they do the info is confusing. A case in point. A power cable i am looking at says MSRP is $5750, Selling 2350 or make offer. Looking on Google another seller was selling 5 months ago with MSRP $2750, selling $1200. What the F"

I really don't mean to offend anyone, but I couldn't think of a better example than this real one from the other post. Its clear from reading this post, and some of the others, that people are spending a lot of time and money going down this type of path. I my opinion, I don't see what any of this has to do with audio. There's no goal, or problem to solve. Nothing about audio to focus on. Its like day trading stocks; get in at a good price, and get out at a good price.

Again, I just want to clarify that I'm not telling people what they should do, or that my way is better. I just find this a very interesting trend that may hurt, as much as help with equipment selection. But I could be wrong.
There's always going to be a faction that conflates price with performance in any hobby you care to come up with and it's not a means to any kind of ends to speak of, audio satisfaction wise.

You're right to point it out and the confusion it engenders.

All the best,
The single most incredible cable improvement I experienced was very recent, replacing an old monster sigma retro balanced IC ($1000 10 years ago) with a used Tara Labs The One ($2,400 used, new, figure $3,500). It was as if I got a new bass amp (cable goes between bass amp and crossover). Hands down, a deaf man could hear the improvement.
I hate to judge before all the facts are in, and yes, I understand that it can take an awfully long time to determine the sound of a cable what with all the break in time required, but I have to say that unless the cables under evaluation have been cryogenically treated AND broken in fully on a cable cooker or at least the break in track of the XLO test CD, there's just no way to appreciate fully what a particular cable is actually capable of, so in my opinion it's kind of a waste of time to try to arrive at the "best cable" for a particular system. Has anyone actually sat down and calculated the permutations and combinations of thr top ten interconnects and the top ten speaker cables, leaving the cryo and break in aside for a moment? ;-)
Very reasonable observations here. Concerning cables, I just don't obsess over them after going through the "process" years back when I was looking for something that "worked" in my set-up. I settled for some quite expensive cabling that provided what I needed and ended the desire to keep looking, that until quite recently when I changed speakers and a few other things, but basically the same set-up.

Broadstone I agree completely that if you can't discern a difference, it just doesn't exist. Which is to say that you more than likely haven't had in your system cabling that offers a subjectively qualifiable difference. You certainly have a system that can differentiate between cables. Comparing cabling in a given system can be an exhausting endeavor as many offer little or no substantive improvement over long term listening, at least in my experience.

The way I audition cabling is two fold. First I listen short term, back and forth to determine if I can hear a difference. If there seems to be a difference is it a qualitative improvement or is it just different? If it seems to be a slight improvement then I will leave it in the system for several weeks. After time you kind of get used to things as they are and wonder if indeed you are kidding yourself into believing that things have improved. Then you go back to what you were listening to previously to see what happens. Did you lose/gain anything? Are the differences worth what it will cost?

I remember listening to a set of ics in my system years back that clearly, I mean to anyone with average hearing, could hear the difference. Everyone there (4 people) clearly could. The clarity was just astounding yet conversely they were the most amusical cables I've ever listened to and quite expensive. Each ic I added to the system increased the clarity and added to my irritation. I never could figure out what was going on. Cabling is one of the most nebulous components of an audio system. I agree with Elizabeth. On a final note cabling should not be a tone control but often I suppose thats what most of them are. There are quantum elements of an electrical signal as well as the other known factors of inductance/capacitance that will affect what we hear. Of that I am convinced but what IS going on? What I have discovered most recently are cables that have revealed to me what is possible in that they offer a coherence to the presentation that I had previously never before heard. Is this to say they are better than my long term reference. In one very important way, yes in that they are the first cable I have listened to where there is a clearer more natural detail without the tonal coloration I was hearing. Music seems to be happening in real time more like you hear live on the best recordings. I would say that it is on the order of a component change. I feel quite confident that you would certainly hear it too. I "discovered" these cables when I heard them in a friend's system so profound was the improvement. Our systems couldn't be more different yet the similarities in what these cables yielded in his system and mine were just unmistakable. Funny thing I just recently invited him over and "tricked" him. I put one pair of my old reference ics in the system to replace the new ones and he IMMEDIATELY picked up on it when he walked in the door.
Tube, is it a state secret what kind of cables they are?
03-09-14: Tubegroover
On a final note cabling should not be a tone control but often I suppose thats what most of them are.

I think that is one of the biggest misnomers in audio, is that cables should not be tone controls. All cables are tone controls, period. If you think that your cable is not a tone control, compare it to how your system sounds with NO cables. LOL!
Obviously, there will be NO sound with NO cables. All cables have some tonality, just because they mesh well with your system and musical tastes, does not make them "neutral", or not tone controls. It just means that you have found the tone controls which fit your gear and tastes the best.
Sure, you could always fool yourself into thinking that cables are not tone controls by tailoring the sound of your equipment which suits your cables best, and I know some who do this.....but who are you trying to fool?

All gear and cables have a tonal signature. Most listeners try to balance their system to their own personal tastes. Some like revealing cables with warm gear, some like warm cables with revealing gear, there are many different paths to audio nirvana. However, there is no cable that sounds like no cable at all. There is no way to even compare the sound of a cable to no cable at all. So to say that cables shouldn't be tone controls is just silly audiophile fluff. As always, YMMV.
I suppose I didn't make myself clear enough Jmcgrogan. I didn't say the cables I am currently using are not themselves tone controls, after all every audio component in some matter offers degrees of digression from the recording and the event itself, I'm not that naive. I should have made clear just less so than others IME. Things are only as good as to what one's experience and taste is as you have made quite clear. I totally agree with your comments.
It isn't a secret Schubert but I didn't want to make it into a "my cable is better than yours" thread and stay on point to the op's observation. I just like them a lot and they CLEARLY do what other cables have not in my system, offer a clearer more natural path to the music with less obvious coloration. Actually the cables have been around awhile but there have been very few comments concerning them in this forum, Omega Micro line. The Mapleshade cables (Parent company) offer similar characteristics but miss many of the elements that the OMs offer. They are also fragile and fussy so maybe not a good option for some.
Jmcgrogan2 - FINALLY! Glad to see someone else commenting on what I've been
wondering for some time. To your several good points...why the heck is it wrong
to use cables as 'tone controls'? They act as tone controls whether or not
consciously chosen for that purpose. Are effects of frequency balance &
extension, tone & timbre ignored in discussions of 'synergy' between cables and
the rest of a system? If synergy is preferred and antagonistic effects to be
avoided, then the contribution of cables to tone has to be considered when
choosing them. If such is the case, what's wrong with choosing cables to
improve a system's tonal balance?
****...why the heck is it wrong to use cables as 'tone controls'? ****

Nothing wrong if personal taste is the goal. But, to the extent that we
can agree that distortion is not a good thing, the very best results are
always achieved when one keeps the goal of faithfulness to the sound of
live music at the forefront. It is a more challenging methodology because it,
first and foremost, requires knowing what that sound is and that requires a
lot of commitment; casual exposure to that sound is not enough. This,
combined with the simple fact that, while acknowledging that they all do it
to a degree, some cables do a better job of NOT acting as tone controls
than others; IOW, they get out of the way of the signal more than others. If
one truly knows the sound of live music (inconsistencies, variability and all)
and with enough experience playing with different equipment, certain
patterns emerge that make it easier to determine how good a job a new
piece of gear or cable does of getting out of the way and how much of the
change one hears is distortion being added to the sonic soup. Of course,
"personal taste" can be substituted for "sound of
live"; but, that's a different matter.
@Tubegroover, sorry, I was not attacking you per se. I only got on my soapbox as an opportunity to respond to many in this hobby who trump that line that 'cables should not be used as tone controls'. It just set me off because it is pure fantasy to imagine a cable with no tonal balance of it's own. You are absolutely right, all cables ARE tone controls.

@Ghousthouse, there is nothing wrong with using cables as tone controls. The folks that beat the drums that cables should not be used as tone controls are only fooling themselves. I do know folks who tune the sound to their tastes around the equipment they have by trying various cables, and I also know folks who tune the sound to their tastes around the cables that they have by trying various equipment. Me, personally I find that tuning with cables around equipment is easier and less expensive than tuning with equipment around cables, but that's just me. I do not insist that this is the absolute path. There are many paths to audio nirvana, choose what works best for you.
Jmc & Frogman - My 'what the heck' question was intended as rhetorical and to reflect my reaction when I read comments against using cable for tone control. Whether the goal is to more closely approach some objective standard of realism or satisfy a subjective standard based on personal taste, cables are useful tools. In either case, It makes sense to me to do the heavy lifting with a combination of equipment that 'plays well together' and use cabling for fine tuning - not as a band-aid for some more fundamental equipment mis-match. I suspect that's what many of the 'anti-tone control people' are intending. To the OP, Broadstone, I was a complete wire skeptic not so long ago. Maybe the stuff I had was completely mis-matched to my gear, but I definitely heard a difference and often improvement (mainly better resolution and more bass extension) with one- at-a-time changes to speaker cable, ICs or power cable. Surprised me when I heard it...not something I was expecting given my very modest system.
@ Cerrot Hi, Very good cable you have there, do you have Taralabs speaker cables to?, I am glad you are enjoying the interconnect, how long have you had the interconnect?, cheers.

I have had The One interconnects throughout my system for a few years now. I just upgraded my last cable between bass amp and crossover so now all IC's are The One. I have The One speaker cable as well, which I just upgraded recently. They are definitley worth the money.
Well, there goes that theory that full looms don't work:)
When I started this thread I fully expected it to be a subject with a wide range of opinions. It seems, though, that most listeners agree that interconnect and speaker wire choice make a noticeable difference but, and this is what amazes me, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of even general agreement about a wire/cable that is, at least, a good starting point in this quest.

My experience with speaker wire began about 55 yrs ago with a self built Heathkit monaural amp, a cheap turntable and an also self built "Sweet 16" speaker enclosure. At that time the effect that speaker cable had in a system never even crossed my mind, nor, to my memory, was it even a subject of discussion in the magazines of that period.

I think that maybe what's happened is that, in general, improvements in all components have progressed over the years to the extent that many feel that, within our respective budgets, we have put together systems that we assumed are the best for the money and that we should be happy with. After having dedicated a significant portion of our budget to these more expensive components, then, we turn our attention to other parts of the system to "fine tune" it to our tastes. It seems that this tuning boils down mostly to IC's and cables.

Here's what bothers me about that; in following a signal from source to speaker there are so many significant interactions between various components in the chain, including conductors, that choosing to concentrate on only one of these at a time one would have to assume that each of the other by itself or working together with other components is as good as it can be. That can't be the case so it's like exceeding the allowable number of significant digits in the outcome of a mathematical equation.

One of the responders asked if anyone has calculated what the number of permutations and combinations was for the various component choices in a system. This, of course, would only be mathematically possible if one knew exactly what was available to put into a given system and that is unknowable but probably in the billions.

I'm rambling but my point is that music listening is so subjective in the first place that there can't be one or even several wire choices that are superior to all others. This is especially true for someone like me who, apparently, does not have a sufficiently trained ear to recognize subtle differences. As an example, I have a Sony jukebox and a Shanling single CD player, both playing through the same Rogue Audio amp, and there are certain music selections that I actually like better if played on the jukebox.

As I said before, these comments are not meant to argue that speaker wire choice is a frivolous quest; it's just that the process has so many factors to consider and so complicated for me that I'm accepting the assumption that the wires that I use are not the most or even an important factor in my system.
@ cerrot Hi, I allways knew a full-loom of Taralabs works!, Hey cerrot, If you have the time, as a special request, come on over to the Taralabs 0.8 thread and repost your post, and I would like to talk to you there about all the equipment you are useing, I do not want to elaborate on Taralabs on this thread, It may be off topic of the thread, there on the Taralabs 0.8 thread, that's what we talk about is Taralabs and equipment that it's used on, thankyou for your reply cerrot, cheers.
@ Isochronism, Hi, you got that right!, there goes the theory that full looms do not work!, I can imagine it may not work on any given system, just on most systems!
@ Broadstone, I understand your opinion, and respect it as well,I do not have 55 years into this like you, I do have 35 years!, I suppose this may depend on all that a person has been exposed to, I also can imagine your hearing is just fine, I have went down a different path than what you are saying here, I can hear alot of differences between each and every model with-in Taralabs cables, I have a model of Taralabs that is 5 cables down the cable food chain from my current top model Taralabs makes, I can assure you, the differences are no where subtle, A person can have never listened to a high-end sytem in their lifes, and would be able to hear a huge difference, someone can be nearly deaf and hear the difference, It's really like going from a toyota camry to a ferrari, cheers.
Broadstone, It is hard for me to date the origins of my involvement with audio but it was somewhere in the late 1950s and it was with Dyna kits. I remember getting on the slippery slope of better audio with buying a Fisher 500, it the early '60s.

I remember thinking when I got The Absolute Sound magazine without any advertizing that I was close to that absolute sound, live audio. Now many years later, with the realism of the sound I am now hearing, I realize that I was far from it. All that I can really say is that if you are satisfied with what you have, enjoy. But avoid listening to other peoples' systems. Probably most would not excite you, but inevitabally you will hear one that is striking real sounding and it would thrill you. That is were I am at today, and I don't want to go back. Be forewarned.
Audiolabyrinth, I don't think this thread is about Taralabs, OM or any specific cable but the subjectivity of what we we each as individuals hear and prioritize not to mention our individual experiences and exposure to different equipment. The options in this hobby and the choices of combinations border on the infinite not to even mention adding in to that equation the personal objectives in what one is trying to achieve. I hear you Broadstone as many of us do, there is nor will there EVER be a definitive resolution to this perplexing dilemma, only what satisfies us individually. What is ALWAYS remarkable to me is how two systems can sound equally satisfying yet sound so different. What is real and what is an illusion? Live is real and reproduced is an illusion regardless of how we each try to reconcile it.
03-10-14: Isochronism
Well, there goes that theory that full looms don't work:)

You do enjoy pouring gasoline of fires don't you Brett? LOL!

No one ever said full looms don't work, only that they aren't the only option. Just as some like tube, while some like solid state. Some like vinyl while others prefer digital. Some like full loom, some like variety. It really isn't so it? ;^)