Best way to hear sonic signature of a cable?

For all the cable-heads out there: can someone suggest a way to test cables? the best way i've come up with so far is using only a headphone amp (with a volume control) and a cdp and listening through a set of cans. this keeps only one set of interconnects in the system. but it still doesn't tell me what the interconnects will do once a preamp is added, etc.

what do you folks do when you don't have enough resources to swap out an entire system with difference interconnects?
Keep on listening to them.In my case it takes
a week at least.And also make sure, you are
familiar on other cables you have and your gear
sonic wise.
That's tricky. The best way might be to try different cables on a trial basis in your own system. Local dealers will sometimes do that -- and you can get their take on the signatures and perhaps even listen to them in their systems. There are many cable dealers who will also do that.

Further, if you check the threads here, there are many reviews on cables and people sharing their experience with cables.

Personally, I usually start with either the cable between phono preamp and preamp or between DAC and preamp. If I like it, I'll try other like cables in the rest of the system. Unfortunately, I've found that this leads to uneven results. Sometimes, I'll really like an interconnect, but I don't like the speaker cable from the same company. Also, I might like an interconnect from company A between DAC and preamp, but the digital cable from company B between transport and DAC.

Is this supposed to be easy? If so, I've not found the answer and look forward to other responses.

I do think it would be useful to get a "cable signature" portion of the forum where it would be easy to sort and search opinions and experiences on cables. The search I recommended above is a very time consuming endeavor. Audiogon, are you listening?? Of course, even that is tough since different types of equipment yield different results.
My method is very simple. I put in the new IC or cable and leave it in for a week or so, making no other changes to the system. Then I take the cable out and put in the old cable. If there is a difference, this is the time you should hear it. Often, when I put in a new cable I think I hear a difference, but after I remove it and re-install the old cable I hear no change whatsoever. Same drill with most tweaks.
Newbee - I think you are missing out on a big bit.

You should use the new cable for a week or so ( as you suggest ). Put back the old IC ( as you suggest ) - listen for a couple of minutes. THEN swap back to the new cable. That´s when you hear the differance!

I don´t know why, but it´s "harder" to detect the downgrade ( if any ) than the upgrade ( if any ). When you swap in this order you should much easier detect the cables signature.

Done it many times on most tried out gear and cable. Don´t know why - but it´s a SURE teller!

A better way is to blindfold yourself and have someone else switch the cables
and see if you can even tell which is which. If you can't, then don't buy the
hype. If the more expensive happens to sound like crap, keep the cheaper
one. Lather, rinse, repeat. Next, take all of the money you were going to
spend on expensive cables and go out and listen to more expensive speakers.
See what kind of speaker upgrade you could get with that money. Ask
yourself which is the larger bang for the buck upgrade. Listen to the different
speakers with your eyes closed or have someone else switch between them --
see if it is as hard to tell the difference between speakers as it is to hear the
difference between cables [while blindfolded]. Ask yourself if you'd rather
have better speakers with inexpensive, but well-performing cables or the
same speakers but with more expensive cables. These are the tests I would
Actually, I think Newbee is correct.

When you've run your rig a week with the cable you're evaluating, then swap back to your old cable you instantly "feel" the results.

Do you connect with the music better, or do you instantly feel a loss of involvement? This is what works for me anyway.

I've learned that what seems "better" is often just "different"...this is why cable evaluation takes patience.
try to listen on the most efficient set of speakers possible- you will hear more of the differences...
"try to listen on the most efficient set of speakers possible- you will hear more of the differences..."

This is not always true. One can argue that high efficient speakers has lower requirement. Therefore, you can't hear as bigger difference because it doesn't draw as much current/voltage through the cable. I found the less efficient setups can hear the same amount of differences too. It really depends on your overall setup.

Consistency is the key to test the sonic signature. It doesn't matter how many setups you test, you should always get identical results.

I've always compared any cable over 5 totally different setups and found the result always identical.
The old/new/old drill many of the posters mention is something I apply to all equipment, not just cables. I am doing that right now with two different amps.

In general, I listen to each component switch for about a week. And I weigh both the immediate difference I hear when making the switch and the long term feel I get for each component as I spend time with it. The reason I spend time with it is so that I can listen to a broad range of my favorite and familiar music. I've also found that certain gear needs a little more time than others to re-settle in with the system.

I realize the way I conduct my test includes many other components in the chain, which could influence my overall impression. If you're trying to get a feel for the character for a cable by isolating it the best you can, your method may be optimal.