Better Electronics or New Cables???

Which have you found to be more satisfying, better hardware or new cables? If you had a spare $1,000 for either but not both, which way would you go?
Cables all the way dude! You can't believe the performance that your components (assuming that you have decent equipment to begin with) are capable of, until you invest in some really good cabling: interconnects, speaker wire, & especially power cords. I was stunned when I finally hit the right mix of cables for my gear - expnesive yes, but YIKES it's good! You may have to experiment a lot though; it took me > a year.
I believe that a pretty wide misconception is that you need to upgrade (expend more and more) te get better. If you challenge yourself go the acid test and ask yourself if you´re really extracting all performance of your current hardware.. Chances are that if you really think into it and take an active stand you can improve for the time being and save more for the real upgrade in hardware Good luck
A hardware upgrade will make the biggest improvement. Cables have an effect on sound that is for sure but it is not nearly as big as some would have you believe. I recently called the manufacture of my amplifiers and asked what they recommended. To my surprise, the guy laughed and said any well made cable, but he suggested that I not spend much and buy cable last as it would have the least effect upon the sound. He suggested that I apply better acoustical treatment to my listening room as this would have a bigger effect than cables. Though he did recommend some decent brands of cable and had some decent stuff in his personal set up, though nothing very expensive.
rock--what've you got and what're you trying to immprove?
Randal, I've got a theory that as one moves up the component food chain the less important the conductors become to the end result. I've had the good fortune to source some top of the line (in their day) pieces at these stereo websites. As a result, my system's expressiveness has increased to such a degree that i'm beginning to feel some serenity with the whole shebang. It's scary! Here's the stuff (and where it came from): Theta Data Basic II (AudioReview); Theta Pro Prime IIa and Theta cable (New); Threshold FET ten/hl (AudioWeb); Kimber Hero (Audiogon); Threshold S/350e (Ebay); Radio Shack 14AWG Ribbon Speaker Wire (New); ProAc Tablette 2000 Signatures (New). Who's the next victim? Probably the Pro Prime IIa, but primarily because it's not the top of the line. Btw, I've got lots of vinyl left over from its heyday, but at this stage you couldn't pay me to buy, keep and preserve another fragile LP record. What are you listening through?
Well you didn't specify what you have. $1000 these days don't buy you much. If you have lower end electronics, then $1000 is a decent amount to spend on electronics. If you're pretty hi-end, then you should go cables and tweaks. Black Diamond Racing Cones and their other stuff will work wonders to your system.
Rockvirgo, it's a shame that you don't listen to vinyl anymore. It's terrific nowadays.
There a several magic numbers and divine ratios to be found in the natural sciences. I won't pretend that this is one of them, but it has been my observation (over 30 years of buying audio stuff) that, much like a doubling of power to achieve 3db of additional gain, a doubling of cost is needed to realize a significant difference in quality of components at ANY point in one's system. I know that some products are better values than others, and there is a lot of outrageously overpriced crap available. However, as a general rule, you will need to spend your $1000 to replace something that sold for $500 or less in comparable condition (new, used, auctioned, etc.). In other words, replacing a $1000 amp with a $1500 amp will yield imperceptible improvement, unless the former was flawed or the latter bought used. Replacing a $500 CD player with a $1000 CD player will almost certainly be significant to any listener. Make your investments accordingly. Buy used whenever possible, especially low-level electronics, and wire.
Hey bubba - - $1,000 on cables interconnects, even on the used market won't get you far. It all depends what your front system looks like (e.g. speakers, amps, transport, preamps, etc.). If your just getting into the audio nirvana and are using at least decent stuff; your notr going to here anything if your using cheap gear. 1st stop = speaker placement, sweet spot, 2nd stop = good speaker mains, no matter what you do back there, it still gotta come from your speaker. 3rd stop = amps, this is whats going to push it; you gotta match your speaker and amps, 4th stop = CD/transport and the list goes on. I'd say, spend no less than 20% of your components value on interconnects, powercords, speaker cables, etc. If you buy good, brand named IC's, you can always sell them, less at least 15% less of what you initially paid on the used market.
Both! But electronics first - cables are as important as any component in the chain. Generally components are a bigger investment so alot of people cable up or change cables several times before upgrading other components. IMO start with your power - dedicated lines if possible and then get the best front end you can afford. Next get after market power cords for every component that is detachable. I would then go for your lungs on an amplifier, then preamp unless you're bypassing this stage. Then cables, then speakers. Alot of people go through this process in reverse but I think really solid power and electronics will make make even average speakers above average. When you have completed each step - START OVER!!
Start with your source.Cd/Turtable.Put the most money there.The theory garbage in garbage out is true.If you put a lousy single into a great amp it will sound lousy.Put a great single in a lousy amp and i wont sound to bad.Dont get to bent out of shape on wire its the biggest scam in audio.Dont get me wrong good cables make a difference.You just dont have to spent stupid money to get good cables.I have done blind a/b testing with cables Interconnects in prices of 100 up to 1000 and all ranges in between.the more you spend does not allways get you best sound.The best interconnect period i have heard and been validated by others is only 299.00.So dont be fooled by the cable hype.Find some dealers in your area and take a bunch home and listen.But put your money into the best source you can afford.
It all depends where you're starting from. If you have Adcom stuff, buy new electronics. If you own a(for example) Jeff Rowland Design Group amp, obviously $1K will not buy you anything better.
If you covered basics like dedicated line... if money is available front end electronics and interconnects
The only way to answer your question is to know the starting point. As alluded to by another responder, if you spend 1K upgrading components in what was a 1K total system, that might make sense improve componentry,especially speakers if they were weak to begin with. However, if you spend 1k upgrading a 5-kk system, them the greater impact could come from cables. I have recently started experimenting and have found that far smaller investments in cabling can make far larger differences. But again, while my total system was about 6K, the weak links (no pun intended) were the best buy stock monster cable interconnects and speaker wire. I am now experimenting with Nordost interconnect (sonic wind made a huge difference) and the Flatline gold II speaker connects. I am less sure about the speaker wire and will be experimenting with other manufacturers. But for a total of less than $500, the sonic improvement (in both interconnect and speaker cable) has been staggering.
If you do not have decent cables at all, just the OEM junk etc, then spend the $1K on cables all around. If you have decent cables already go for hardware.
Power cords and interconnects have made a world of difference in my system. I have fairly expensive hardware and have found that power cords especially made the biggest difference in my system. Its all synergy within your system!! Go for a used Electraglide power cord or interconnect. You won't be sorry!!
HI Rockvirgo. I could not believe what good PCs can do. The cobra,king cobra and FIM has done more for my system than any electronic change. Assuming you have good electronics to begin with. Try just one of the mentioned PCs and see if you have the same experiance.
That's just what I did, to that very guy; I was curious, we'll see...I plan to be HYPER skeptical about this cord, and will report my findings on here in a new thread enitled "Carl's take on the FIM Gold cord". It might be about 20 days from now, though...To quote Brian, "It just absolutely kills everything...makes the King Cobra sound like a $30 cord...that's why you see so many for sale..." If this is true, then my system will literally transport me to another galaxy...but I doubt it is as "true" as the claim (I don't have a KC for direct comparison, either...but according to Brian, it won't matter). Usually with claims like this, the "killer improvement" is just some radical tonal change...either everything turns VERY DARK, or VERY BRIGHT. Like I said, we'll see. If it even halfway "kills" the SR Ref cord that I have on hand right now, I'll buy this FIM Gold cord, that is certain.
Hey Carl, I'm looking forward to your findings. Take care, Tom
Thanks Tom, and happy listening!
Hey Carl, i'm looking foward to your findings too. I think after you hear the FIM you will not be thinking about PCs for a long time. They are incredible.
We'll see, I'm skeptical as always.
Just send me the $1000.00 and I'll send you some paint for your current wires. It will make them look snazzy and I'll go on a trip to Bermuda.
That's so funny, I forgot to laugh...
Carl, good luck with the new cable. I hope this guy knows that this upcoming forum will have a major effect on the future of his company's business. I know you know this as well. I am glad a person of high regard is handling the audition. One thing I don't understand is his claim that this cord makes a King Cobra sound like a $30 cord. That is just flat out balderdash. I have never heard a King Cobra, but trust enough in our excellent compatriots to know that it doesn't sound like a $30 cord, in any context. Perhaps there will be a positive effect by denigrating the competition, but many will be turned off as well. And if this cord is just typical of that price range, he will lose some measure of credibility in this hobby. If you make a good product, you don't have to criticize the others. Just put it out there, and we will eventually find it(as in Resolution Audio CD players). You don't hear Jeff Rowland talking trash, even though his products can more than back it up. And you don't hear anyone bash Jeff Rowland stuff, not even tube freaks. I expect this cord to perform at a very high level, whether that expectation is realized remains to be seen(or heard). Again, good luck with the audition!
Trel, thanks for the well-wishing. It was a dealer that said those words, not the manufacturer, that I know of. I don't necessarily think my opinions about this cord will carry much weight. One thing I will say right now, is that this cord is likely the most STIFF cord you'll ever come across. I think it must use 3 solid core 8 gauge copper conductors...I'm casually listening to it quietly right now (before I turn the computer off), and it doesn't seem to be doing anything overtly wrong. It might be a tad bright, but of course it isn't burned in yet. I need to plug something powerful into it for a while, my Stihl leaf blower, maybe. The cord would probably suspend that thing in the air, and hold against the Mach 3 nozzle velocity.....happy listening!!!
I always thought that NBS cords and cables were the stiffest. My Z-zystems A/D converter cannot stand properly on its four feet with the NBS digital cable plugged into it--it "does a wheely" without some type of weight on top of it And an NBS power cable once knocked my Stax earspeaker driver unit out of my rack. With every power cord I have ever tried, I have always noticed an improvement in three areas: 1.) dynamics, 2.) instrument localization, 3.) sound stage width--with or without changes in equalization and S/N ratio (depending on the cable). With regard to the the FIM, Carl, I would like to know if it improves anything more than the first three listed. Regarding this thread topic: better electronic or new cables? one needs to be careful: wanting too much to tweek ones system, one easily embalms it. The effect of many substandard power line conditioners, and bad cable choices is to "mummify" the sound.
Hi Slawney, I really dig your undertaker/mummy analogy. Maybe that explains why some of these cats are so deadpan serious, haha. Thanks man!
Rockvirgo, take the analogy one step further: I have known certain "monster" cables to make a system sound so "dead" that it would take an audiophile Dr. Frankenstein to reawaken the system to life again. To get back to the forum theme, I think it has been said that $1,000 cannot buy you very much these days: maybe a power cord like the FIM gold or a Shunyata--otherwise all that you can buy is a bunch of Black Diamond accessories. I would not think that even a $1,000 RCA or XLR cable would be much of an improvement in a seriously high end system. But certain "giant killer" cables like the Coincident IC cable have proven me wrong at US $299. Bottom line: Rockvirgo, if your existing cables are just the strip wire that you got with the products, then buy three sets of Coincident IC cables: put one between your turntable and your phono stage, the second between your phono stage and preamp and the third between your preamp and your power amps. That will be the best upgrade possible, I think, for $1,000. You will even have $103 left over for a few MFSL records.
Slawney is right. Coincident PCs IMO is the best value I have heard. It is not in the FIM or king cobra league. But for under $300 it holds its own against PCs costing much more. I liked it better than black mamba. Good luck Rockvirgo.
Those high dollar cables you have got to be kidding.Just buy some cables from parts express. I have been doing this stuff for 40 years. Buy some good electronics your ears will not here the difference. But if you beleive that those extremly expensive cables make a difference have at it.