Budget cable chaos??? Is River Cable the new star?


Sometimes, I wonder that some audiophiles waste more time trying to determine what "budget" speaker cable to buy, than a cables costing 5 to 10 times as much. I include myself in that inglorious lot

Budget cables keep popping up on Audiogon almost daily. And, "The Cable Company" has few to none to loan out for audition in your system.

Let's see to date: there is Anti-Cable Reference, Clearday, Clearview, JW Cryo, Canare, etc, etc.... Now, I have uncovered a new budget cable company called RIVER CABLE an internet company. Their speaker cable looks well made and attractive to display, AND PRICING is ridiculously inexpensive. They basically offer three models: the entry level "Starflex". Flexgyny 6 and Flexgyny 8 (top of their line) The few reviews I found, claim that the latter two speaker cables are very good for the money, but sound distant in the midrange. The Flex 6 model I was informed is a better choice for longer cable runs because of the extra copper used. Not sure what that means or is even accurate. I have garnered that copper based speaker cables tend to sound warmer,and often more musical than the more analytical and cool silver based cables

So again begging the patience of the membership, has anyone auditioned or owned these RIVER CABLE speaker cables, and if so, how do they rank in sound quality with the others in the ongoing "budget buffet"???. I think the industry should put a moratorium on the number of so-called "budget cables" issued each year. There would probably be less buyers's remorse,and suicides among audiophiles

NOTE: Please, don't just respond by saying: "you will have to JUST try them to see what works in your system" Oh, bollocks!!! as the Brits say. The Audio business is not a consortium of roving Renaissance Faires tossing cables to the crowds for personal use. Get Real!! Thanks, Jim

sunnyjim
I auditioned the Flex 8.I think they were 14 ft.long.They sounded absolutely dead in my system.Slow somehow,no dynamics.I had 150 watt ss amps at the time and hoped that the heavy gage copper would work well in a long run but it definitely did not.Also had a difficult time getting a refund after sending them back and ended up filing a dispute with my credit card company.
Others seem to like them just fine and they have gotten good reviews.My experience was not a good one though.
Sorry to break the news Jim but it's not "bollocks" that you need to match your cables to your system. Maybe you are the one that needs to "get real".
Jim-

add Snake River Audio to your list of must-demo cables.
I bought River Cable speaker cables. They replaced both Kimber 8TC and Tellurium Q Black, and out performed them! I needed long runs, twenty feet, and they were much less expensive and easier to find than the Telluriums, and I liked Telluriums a lot! I have been delighted, and even at seven gage they are not hard to place. Locking bananas help with the issue of their weight. I use Parasound Halo amps driving Maggie 1.7s. I feel like I have I proved things each time I changed cables, and the overall sound now suits me to a "T".
I'm not sure I understand what you are looking for here.

"NOTE: Please, don't just respond by saying: "you will have to JUST try them to see what works in your system" Oh, bollocks!!! as the Brits say. The Audio business is not a consortium of roving Renaissance Faires tossing cables to the crowds for personal use. Get Real!! Thanks, Jim "

Ok, but what's the alternative? Are you just looking for someone to tell you to buy them? If River Cable is a fairly new company that has yet to find their place in the market, maybe you should try a different approach. Why not look at budget cables from companies that are more established? At least you'll have more opinions to read about if you don't want to demo the cables first.
What are you hoping the cable will sound like? Do you want the copper sound? If so you may want to try the entry level cables from known companies as was suggested. At least that way you have a strategy other than what's the cable of the month ?
Sunnyjim and Zd542, in the budget cable market River cables have been around for years. River Cable is not a new entry to the market. See the link below:
[url=http://www.audioholics.com/gadget-reviews/speaker-cable-reviews-faceoff-2]River Cable 2004[/url] This speaker cable faceoff may be of interest too.

I haven't tried them, but one of these days I may, if my most recent purchase does not measure up. Sunnyjim, as far as budget cables go, I would definitely recommend trying out Supra Classic 6.0. If they're good enough for Merlin speakers, they're a very good budget cable.
"Why not look at budget cables from companies that are more established?"

That was what I said above. I really have no idea how long River cables have been in business, but they're not as well established as companies like AQ, Kimber, Cardas etc.. If someone is going to make an effort to not audition cables and buy blind, there's a lot more info in the form of comments and reviews with the bigger names.
I took a look at their site, and at the descriptions of the three speaker cables Jim mentioned. FWIW, here are my comments:

1)What is most impressive to me about the site is what is NOT there. No techno-babble, pseudo-scientific nonsense, far-fetched theories, or other BS.

2)It is reassuring to see that they provide essentially complete descriptions and specifications of their cables.

3)The description of their background supplying professional markets for 20 years or so is also reassuring.

4)As are the facts that they make their own cables, and subject them to thorough testing, monitoring actual signal waveforms.

5)The photo on their home page is certainly impressive :-)

On the other hand, I have no idea why they say that "low capacitance in speaker cables is especially important with dynamic coil speakers," and emphasize that the capacitance of their top end speaker cable is an extremely low 10 pF/ft.

Normally inductance is a more important parameter than capacitance in a speaker cable, and the inductance of their speaker cables is nothing special.

FWIW. Regards,
-- Al
TO Jafant: Snake River cables are far from budget level. But thanks for the rocommendation
I knew I was going to take it on the chin with this thread.
Zd542: I know you "don't take prisoners" in your comments but I wish you would not come on like gang busters. This is an audio blog, not a national security meeting

However, I THOUGHT my comment very funny and insightful that the "Audio Business is not a roving consortium of Renaissance Faires, etc, etc." This is not an original thought on my part but was inspired by either John Atkinson, or one of the senior editors of Stereophile. The subject was under discussion in the "AS WE SEE IT" section of the publication.

It is in my opinion spot on because I am not travelling to an audioshow in Vegas, Denver, Chicago, or NYC to audition a bunch of speaker cables. This idea that the "Cable Company" has every cable on the shelf for auditioning is just not true. Sometimes, they don't have the lengths required, or the loaner of a particular brand is NOT available.

I don't live in New York City, San Fran, or Chicago where I can avail myself of least the advice of audiosales people, or "loanership" of different brands from numerous audio shops. Honolulu has two high end audio shops, neither of which loan out cables or sell budget cables. So I must depend on the astute audio wisdom of my audiophile brothers to get a "read" on different brands of cables out there which I have little to no access. I can't row to Los Angeles in a kayak and check out their audio stores which are numerous if you include all of L.A. county

The sad truth is that many high end stores think of cabling as an after dinner mint. They are more concerned with selling the other components, and often have a narrow selection of cables they can recommend because they don't want to be bothered. The other problem is many of these goddamn audio mags that many of us subscribe, go out of their way to avoid cable reviews or cable shootouts. Maybe many of the writers CANNOT articulate the differences and don't want to be bothered by this after the sale product.

Case in point, page through the September 2013 TAS, there are lots of expensive cable ads, but rarely reviews. Plus, as much as Robert Hartley of TAS claims otherwise this magazine has become increasingly dedicated to super high end audio. This turn has occurred over the last year or so.

Lastly, To Almarg. thank you for your assessment of River Cable Company via their website. You always provide informative and judicious answers (and advice)in response to the threads offered. I wonder if the inductance/ capacitance ratios of the River Cable Flex 8 could be the reason that responder "Jtcf" "sounded dead" in his system. The company's reluctance to quickly refund his purchase is not a selling point for River Cable
From looking through the Audiogon forum archives River Cable has been around for quite some time. The earliest post about them was from late 2004. That older thread mentions them in the same vein as DH Labs, Anti-Cables etc. I guess they don't advertise much here or are not as popular as the other budget cable manufacturers.

I'd probably stay away as you may not have any re-sale value with the River Cables as you would with others.

At least with the other manufacturers if you buy their cables used you can re-sell them at close to the same price to minimize loss.

Sometimes there is no way to avoid the buy, try and re-sell game in audio.
"09-02-13: Sunnyjim
I knew I was going to take it on the chin with this thread.
Zd542: I know you "don't take prisoners" in your comments but I wish you would not come on like gang busters. This is an audio blog, not a national security meeting"

I'm kind of disappointed here. I really don't see how you can come up with the above statement.

"NOTE: Please, don't just respond by saying: "you will have to JUST try them to see what works in your system" Oh, bollocks!!! as the Brits say. The Audio business is not a consortium of roving Renaissance Faires tossing cables to the crowds for personal use. Get Real!! Thanks, Jim "

I had no idea that statement was a joke. It doesn't sound like one and I don't read Stereophile. It looks to me like you are asking for advice, but at the same time telling us not to give answers that you don't want to hear. Most people with experience are very consistent in saying that the best way to evaluate a cable is to try it in your system. I really can't think of a better way to do it.
Sunny, if you want to try copper ribbons check out the Goertz M1 cables.I had some in previous system and really liked them.They had a natural,organic sound to them.I ordered both copper and silver and sent the silver back for a prompt refund.I was planning on giving them another try but I auditioned ClearDay first and am totally happy with them and the rest of my cabling,so hopefully I am done now.Unless that evil upgrade bug strikes again:D
I noticed they have a restocking fee now,so you might want to ask about that if you decide to try them.Best of luck to you in your search!
To Jtcf. Thanks for the advice,> I know Goertz cables have been around for ages, and so might be able to find a pair of the cooper to audition or possibly buy from The Cable Company or The Used Cable Compnay
Be careful with Goertz! The Goertz speaker cables achieve ultra-low inductance at the expense of having ultra-high capacitance, which, if used without a "Zobel network," has been known to cause some amplifiers to oscillate and self-destruct. Especially some solid state amplifiers.

The M1 has one of the lowest capacitances among the various Goertz models, but it is still pretty high at 500 pf/foot. That's 50 times higher than the River Flex8, and probably more than 10 times higher than most other speaker cables.

If you want to go with the M1, ask the supplier if they can provide a Zobel network with it, and/or ask the manufacturer of your amp for their opinion, telling them the particular length you would require. Especially if your amp is solid state.

Regards,
-- Al
My Goertz cables came with the Zobel network, also explaining it was only necessary with some SS amps and not with transformer coupled tube amps. They sound good in my system

Sunnyjim, I do read a lot of your cable posts, and sometimes I realize you're just being funny, and other times you sound somewhat frustrated. Is it too much to ask, what has been the "best overall" cable that you have used in your system?
.
I used the Goretz with two different ss amps with no problems,but apparently more research would be required on compatibility.Just what you need!It is indeed frustrating finding affordable cables.
TO Tls49, Yes, sometimes frustrated, but I think we are all victims of a business model that makes it difficult to find the right combinations of components, and especially cables. This is mostly the consequence of the "business model" that evolved with the audio industry. I can offer more conjecture about this model but I said my piece. However, I will poke fun at the structural inconsistencies of this business/hobby.

However, to answer your question. My system has changed in the last five years. The Acoustic Zen Hologram 2 is excellent cable, but difficult to live with because if its girth.

Overall, I would say the Analysis Plus Oval 12 speaker cable was very enjoyable, and seemed to get better with every listening session. But I upgraded speakers from the Silverline Prelude II to the Acoustic Zen Adagios, and quickly realized I needed a better cable. I then bought the AZ H2's whose inner detail and midrange were exceptional. Unfortunately, in my room the cable provided a narrow soundstage that never extended beyond the speakers's outer boarders. So now, and after about 2 years, I continue to use the Audio Art SC-5(entry level stuff) speaker cable. It is good to very good, but I am not sold that its bigger brother, the SC-5E is necessarily better at three times the price. Thanks for your response and advice.
For what its worth, after reading your last post,I think I figured out why you are having a hard time with cables. You're expecting too much from them. Also, its very likely you are not giving as much consideration to the other components in your system because of this. Cables are easy when you match your components properly. I could be wrong, but that's what I think the main problem is.
Zd542: here is the basic system less the turntable system

Acoustic Zen Adagios speakers
BelCanto PRe-3 line stage
Red Dragon M-500 digital monoblocks
Rega Apollo CD player
Audio Prism Wedge 116 power conditioner

Cables Audio Art SC-5 speaker cables
Nordost Red Dawn IC from amps to BC
Acoustic Zen Tsumani Plus PC used with BC
Chord Chameleon IC (from CD player to BC)
Shunyata "Venom" PC for Rega Apollo

I never in any of my posts or threads stated that I was crying myself to sleep because the sound of the system was mediocre. However, I would like to squeeze out a bit more sound quality, that is, musicality, naturalness, euphononic whatever. I know there are two major component weaknesses in the system, but nothing major that I can't live with.

So, Zd542....Knock yourself with the above information!!!
Zd542 may be right.There could be another component or cable that isn't a good match in your current system.I suffered through that for a couple of years when my cdp bit the dust.Had to audition,return,buy,and sell for quite a while to get things right again.Wish you the best of luck in your search!
Sunnyjim,

I hate to say this but the more you post, the more confused I get. I honestly don't know what you are trying to do here.

"I never in any of my posts or threads stated that I was crying myself to sleep because the sound of the system was mediocre."

That's good. You really shouldn't be crying yourself to sleep for any reason.

"However, I would like to squeeze out a bit more sound quality, that is, musicality, naturalness, euphononic whatever. I know there are two major component weaknesses in the system, but nothing major that I can't live with."

You start to lose me here. You have 2 major components weaknesses in you system but they are not so major that you can't live with them. I take that as, even though you can live with the weaknesses, you would still like to fix them, if you can. If that is the case, what are the 2 weaknesses?

I think you will get better suggestions if you explain the problem with a bit more focus, and not limit the solutions to cables.
Sunnyjim, thanks for answering my question about the speaker cables.

Since you have posted your entire system, and put yourself on the chopping block, I’ll give you my opinion. You have built a system of quality components and cables, however I think the main problem is the synergy. Here are my observations, some from personal experience and others from a little research,

Rega Apollo CD player – very good but can be a little bright, and may not be the best choice for a system that has unforgiving treble.

Chord Chameleon IC – fast, detailed, dynamic, a dull system will definitely benefit using this interconnect.

Bel Canto PRe3 - extremely neutral, output has same character as input.

Nordost Red Dawn IC - many people have found that some of the Nordost can have a bright, lean sound in their system.

Red Dragon M-500 - like the Bel Canto, very neutral.

Now at this point, I can’t see any magic shot in the arm for any speaker cable to overcome the given character of the signal and deliver musicality to the speaker. You have an extremely nice pair of speakers, and I understand they are capable of a very musical sound, however they will only produce the sound that is feed into them.

From one of your threads,
System needs a dose of musicality
Try to think of this in two ways, not just adding, but removing things that distract as well.

IMHO, I would start with the interconnects and CD player, and really hard to say which one first. Even a different CD player that is a little less bright may not be enough with the influence of the cables. I know many have good results using Nordost cables, and initially I did as well, even moving up the chain. I used Blue Heaven, SPM, and Valkyrja, with the BH being the only one that came across as lean, however came to a conclusion that all of them seem to have a somewhat rough, bright top end. A good friend had the same thoughts about the Red Dawn he tried. Once a more pleasing sound is achieved, I would do some final experimentation with speaker cables, and as I have said before, probably use the AZ, even if it needs to be their entry level to get a manageable size, because the speaker was designed and “voiced” using their own cable, so again creating the best synergy.

Now I guess this puts me on the chopping block as well, any comments?
No Ocean cable is better!!
Tls49 makes some excellent points.My experience with Nordost cables echos his.Experimenting with the cdp and ic first makes sense.
Tls49: The Chord Chameleon IC was recommended as compatible with the Apollo, and really made a difference in the sound. You are right the Apollo is somewhat bright up top, and also does not resolve highs that well. Occasionally, highs can sound like white noise. Regarding the CD player, I have really made the rounds looking for something better and more resolving. A few members recommended a few of the Arcam players, and I knew I was after a softer, though not less detailed sound. Unless another Rega Apollo comes around, I am quit looking for a new player.

ToZD542: The two components that are in my opinion weaken my system are the Rega Apollo for the reasons that Tls49 has clearly explained. The other is the Red Dragon amps which though neutral as claimed above, convey average depth and weigh to the sound. The sound is not holographic and lacks convincing taut, bass. It goes without saying that the other weakness is the speaker cable. But let just put that topic aside, it has been sufficiently worked over and mangled.

Regarding the limitations of the digital amps I have described, I would have to make a substantial investment in a basic power amp to get the holography, depth and weight I seek in the sound. Sure, I would like to invest in a PASS LABS X-150 or X-250, or one of the Jeff Rowland amps, but the pricing is prohibitive and I don't want to take the chance of having buyer's remorse.

ZD542, I have spent more time than you can imagine reading reviews, and so have put an enormous amount of time into finding the kind of sound I prefer. It might be unavailable to me at my price range. I know there are members on AG who have invested large sums of money for super high end components, cables, etc.and have achieved the sound they want. I cannot do that.

It might just be time to move on; selling the entire rig seems to be a viable alternative than to going around and round on the audio merry go round.

I am quite aware what the parameters of my search are for the sound I prefer, but also the limitations of my budget.

Adios to all and thanks for the advice, comments, etc.
Jim
Sunnyjim that is just too depressing.IMO you would be very happy with a tubed amp.At the very least a tubed preamp.I know,nobody asked me but I've been where you are and tubes will give you the "musicality" inexpensively.Just trying to help.So long for now.
Sunnyjim,

Your last post provided some very useful info. Up until this point, you didn't appear to be very clear as to what the problems in your system are. Everything was just too general. The info on your amp and CD player is great. You know what you have and you have a pretty good idea where you need to go. I feel that how you are going about this is not the best way to get your system sounding right. You need a different approach. And because of this, I see a lot of negativity and/or disappointment in your posts.

"ZD542, I have spent more time than you can imagine reading reviews, and so have put an enormous amount of time into finding the kind of sound I prefer. It might be unavailable to me at my price range. I know there are members on AG who have invested large sums of money for super high end components, cables, etc.and have achieved the sound they want. I cannot do that."

I can definitely imagine what you are going through because I've been there myself. I did the same exact things, as do many others. That said, I see no reason at all, why you can't get your system to sound great without spending a fortune. Just throwing money at a problem in no way guarantee’s success, though. Same thing with reviews. You really don't need them.

I don't have time to post more now, but I'll think things over and see if I can't come up with some ideas that may be of use to you.