budget component in high-end system?

Does anyone use a budget component in an otherwise high-end system? You always see reviews of budget components where the reviewers says the piece comes very close to things costing much, much more money. Does anyone use any of these so called "budget" components by choice? ex. $500 cd player with $10,000 amplification.
A little more than a year ago, for 3-4 weeks I pulled my old B&K PT-3 preamp ($600.00) and B&K ST-1400 Mk II amp ($700.00) out of the closet and inserted them into my system while my tube preamp ($5,000.00) and monoblocks ($6,000.00) were being repaired. A tube had gone bad and it blew the preamp and the amps.

I still had the rest of my system in place ($40k), I just inserted the two B&K pieces in place of the high end preamp and amp. I was surprised, because I could have easily lived with that system if I had to.

I believe that the real key in this situation was the Stealth Indra interconnects between the DAC and preamp and preamp and amp. I believe that they allowed the B&K pieces to receive and process the best possible signal.

I find myself just shaking my head whenever someone says that they don't see how an interconnect can affect a system. I've heard it over and over, and in this case, it was an amazing revelation, showing that these budget pieces had a lot more quality than I had previously thought they had.

Speltz or Morrow speaker cables.
i use a squeezebox 3 ($299) as a transport into a 47 labs shigaraki dac. i had previous used a 47 labs shigaraki transport ($2250 now that prices have gone up). i don't notice any significant difference.

i use a supratek dual cabernet with yamamoto a-08s amplification. my speakers are von schweikert dB-99SE's. my cabling is just a bunch of throw away junk.

i plan to DIY my future clabes, but i'm planning on buying a new home soon and until i can get my system into a dedicated room, i see no reason to custom build cables when i have no idea how my system will be arranged.
I run a Chinese-made Doge 6 tubed CD player, which cost me about $1,600 with upgraded tubes, in a system that is otherwise high-end by most people's standards ($100k+). I've paid a fair amount for digital gear in the past, but won't do it anymore given the speed with which digital gear becomes obsolete: like any other computer, I can buy a relatively cheap current-production CD player that outperforms state-of-the-art digital gear from five years ago. There is of course a certain minimum level of money that must be spent to ensure that a CD player has a good transport and good power supplies, but even that is available cheaply now given what is coming out of China. This Doge smokes my ARC CD-3 and smokes smokes my Levinson 37/360s, all at a fraction of the price.

Sure I could get better performance with an AMR, Meitner, etc., but I just can't justify the added performance in view of the cost -- this thing sounds great!
I consider headphones a budget component when used within a high end system. The level of performance is great with relatively little money. I use a pair of Ultrasone 2500s with a Grado RA-1 battery unit with really high end results within a high end system.
I see a lot of Sony Playstations being used as CDPs in fairly high end systems.
I keep many pairs of real world priced interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords for demonstration to prove that components, not wires, are the backbone of a good system.

Dealer disclaimer
I would have to say the Morrison Elad Preamp. I have gone through several amps and speakers in the last 6 years, but I am still impressed with it's lack of identifiable "sound". Having said that, I would still give it up for a McIntosh C200.
Not really a highend system, but in the home office/bedroom I'm using a Technics 5-disc changer as a transport, which cost $150 almost eight years ago. $3000 amp, $5k speakers, etc. The interconnects cost a few hundred more than the CD changer did. I do use the computer as the source more often though.
Audiofeil, which is more important, the heart or the network of veins and arteries? As a reviewer, I'd no more wish poor cabling on someone than for a person with a healthy heart to have Thrombosis.
I'm with Audiofeil regarding cabling. High-end commercial cables have the worst value proposition in audio. Some commercial cables that cost thousands are surpassed with DIY designs at 1/20 the cost in parts. In a megabuck system expensive designer cables can be icing on the cake, but they have no relevance to obtaining high performance on a per-dollar basis. My only real regret in audio has been wasting money on cables.
Dgarretson, I'm not sure Auiofeil is with you on that point, as he sells Purist Audio Designs, not an economical cable.

My disagreement was with his downgrading the importance of cables in general, as though they are inherently less important than box components. He says they are not the backbone of the system; well, ok, how about the skin? Is skin necessary? Blood? etc. Which major organ in the body do we want to diminish? I suggest that cables are treated the same way, almost with a low level disrespect, inappropriately so.

I assert they are as critical as any box component (just take them out of the rig, like a source, and hear what happens - nothing!), and that those who take the cheap cabling approach are just as likely to be limiting their rig's performance as aiding it. Over 25 years I have traveled the path from Cable Skeptic, to Budget Cable believer, to where I am today, a Cable-System Synergy proponent.

Audiofeil carries the lines Supra and Purist Audio Design, one being a bit more affordable, the other being very high priced (i.e. well over $1K for a 1 meter power cord). He also carries Stealth Audio cables, which are not so thrifty either:


My guess is he would agree with my view that there is no magic formula regarding economical cables being as good as expensive ones, but that each, regardless of cost, must earn its own keep.

Now, if someone wanted to skimp on a component, cables are a sensible way to get a start cheaply, as one can upgrade far more incrementally than with a high end source, amp, etc. But this should never be an excuse to exempt serious pursuit of a good match between the rest of the components and cabling!

It looks like you have done some homework, comparing cables, as you obviously have spent some money on them in the past, and you have made some for yourself. I find it interesting that you enjoy the homemade flat conductor cables you made. This does not surprise me at all. One of the most becoming cables I have used was an identical concept - the Magnan Cables. I was very impressed by the smoothness, openness, and lack of harshness in the treble. And, they are affordable for a manufactured cable. I reviewed them on Dagogo.com and point that out.

So, I'm not disagreeing with you completely. Some people don't want anything to do with DIY, and there are different outstanding cables at all price points, which should temper our strong opinions.

Also, if there is a hodge-podge of cabling, you really don't know precisely what your cabling sounds like. The only way to really know is to work with a suite of cables. Many audiophiles don't want to shell out the bucks and take the time to compare that way. Years ago, I used to think I knew cables, but when I started to work with entire sets from one manufacturer and compare both individual and entire sets, then I began to learn precisely how much cables influence a system. People who have always used a menagerie of wires are not in a good position to speak authoritatively on whether cables do/do not make a fundamental difference. :)
Doug, you make several good points, most intriguingly that replacing a menagerie of cables from various manufacturers with uniform cabling from one manufacturer, may be a prerequisite for getting a sense of how cables influence a system. As I have not tried this approach I suspend judgment but remain skeptical. Assuming that a particular manufacturer's cables all share the same sonic signature, I can see that an accumulation of such cables would tend to reinforce & reveal that signature more clearly-- which might or might be a good thing for a particular system. But just as often as advocating this approach, cable mavens seek out different cables for voicings of a tactical nature, believing in the manner of oenophiles that a certain lightweight CDP might benefit from a taste of peat and chocolate, or a syrupy oil-capped 300B may be complemented by a lighter grape from the sunny side of the vineyard. Committing to one cable manufacturer implies a synergistic approach, but one might just as well extend this construct and commitment to one manufacturer for all components in a system. There are of course credible manufacturers like Linn who have persuaded customers to purchase homogenious systems by virtue of good engineering or good marketing, and others like Krell with its Cast system, who engineer proprietary links between components. But one must carefully peal the onion of market-speak and/or suffer many bad spends to arrive at the truth on this point.

A look inside some top $10K components reveals lots of $.30/ft microphone cable and other budget wire. Worth starting there, where $50 in hook-up wire may make as much of a difference as a $1000 interchassis IC.

Dgarretson, Yes, peeling onions does protect one from biting into unsavory things... :)
My description of Audiofeil's cable product offerings may unfairly characterize his business by mentioning only high end offerings. It turns out he does carry Zu, Van den Hul and other lines which have modestly priced cables. Thought the community should know this.
We should and now do.Some of us are also into splitting hairs and quaint catchphrases so prevalent among those who religiously run down that last 10% of what is and what might be.Love the veins and arteries analogy,this site is better than a Steven Wright show,thanks men,cheers,Bob
I have some high-end stuff in my budget system.

speaker cables - $100
5KW iso - $100
DIY preamp - $600
amps - $9K (paid 3K)
speakers - $30K (paid 6K)
I have an Apt-Holman pre brought up to spec...and personally, I prefer it over my McIntosh pre. Very analytical piece for 200-400 dollars on the used/vintage market.
Absolutely. While I was a cable believer before, when I went to a complete rewiring from Crystal Cables from wall socket to speaker terminal, the synergey this brings to my systems is nothing short if amazing.

I will never mix and match again. But thats just me.