My total cable investment (retail) is almost as much as yours. My total system is a bit over half yours. Yes there must be a point of diminishing returns, but I cann't say I've found it. I think a $3000 investment in a power cord vs. a $3000 additional investment in an amp for example would provide about a 5 to one return at your system level. Five times the improvement factor in cord over amp, just my opinion! It's also possible that a $100 cord fits your system perfectly, thus your the lucky one. (or a $5000 amp) Every month it seems some "new" cord or theory comes out, so yes there are always hidden gems, the trick will be finding them. The nice thing about cables and cords is once you've invested in a full set of used cables the investment remains, you can try other cords and if it's better sell your old one, chances are good you'll get 90% of your money back.
You have bought a Hydra already wich means you paid full retail, that might have been a good idea due to the reviews I've seen on this product. For the most part I would never buy new for cables and cords, you pay full price, must burn it in and then risk after a couple months it sounding bad once it fully opens up. I've found if your pactient and can wait for the product for a couple years your investment is safer, but then you lose the chance of two more years of perfection. I like you find the Hydra very tempting, I haven't bought one yet.......J.D.
Interesting question. For myself the cost for cable came to 3% of the system's total value of $35k. 0% went to power cables, but another 8% went into power line conditioners/filters. It's my opinion that too many audiophiles over spend on cables. Their systems are good enough to reveal the differences between cables, but that still begs the question whether they are a good value. I use Discovery +4 interconnects and Sumiko OCOS cable. Both are very good products, but I recognize that there are superior, and far more expensive, products out there. I'm not knocking expensive cable products, but I think the money can be better spent on music software, front end equipment or room treatments. BTW, I use an integrated amp (w/ phono). This contributes to keeping interconnect costs down.
Metaphysics- As for me, I think "it takes what it takes," regardless of the relative system percentage. Great cables are absolutely necessary, and rarely inexpensive. The same can be said about active devices as well. I'm sure that there are many who believe that money spent on an "active" component is a far wiser choice than "passive" cables. In terms of resale value, that may be true. However, I've found that without great cables, including powercords, (and their requisite expense) I don't have a full appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses (sonic) of the other components in my system. Your first dollar buys you the most sound. After that, everything could be viewed as diminishing returns. Your system is obviously at the level that cables and pc's can provide the subtle and not-so-subtle improvements necessary for you to more greatly enjoy reproduced audio. If you're doubting your expenditures in high-end cables, simply remove them from your system and determine for yourself if you still have the sound that pleases you. If you're after amazing cables for the money, I'd recommend Coincident Speaker Technology. If you want to spend more, I'd recommend FIM Gold series cables. How either of these compare to the prices of your current cables, I have no idea. However, the cost of your cables and their relative percentage of the system cost isn't the real issue. The real issue is whether you can be happy with the sound, and consequently the money spent (80% or roughly $27K) on the electronics in the system, without the high-end cables. My guess is NOT. Others may disagree, but your ears are the only tools you'll need to determine the answer. Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now. Just MHO.
In my opinion, most of the cables on the market can be duplicated using as good or better quality components for appr. 20% of the retail price. IF your handy at DIY and doing some careful research and shopping, you can typically make BETTER cords and cables than what most of reviewers are raving about for that month or two. Of course, it helps to have a little electronics knowledge and various tools and supplies at one's disposal in order to keep costs down. As such, i find buying "fancy cables" ( including power cords ) to be a vast waste of money in most cases. Besides that, i've found cables to be so extremely system and component dependent that spending BIG money on specific cables without first trying them in your system is quite foolish indeed. What might be "the latest & greatest" might actually make YOUR system perform noticeably poorer. This is NOT to say that i think that spending that kind of money on them is wrong for others to do, i just don't think that it is necessary in my specific situation. Besides that, it helps when you get all your supplies "wholesale". Sean
Having recently gained new interest in "upgrading" my system (some parts are 17 years old!) I got a Preamp, a DVD-A, and started spending $$$ on cables.
I HAD Kimber PBJ all around up top and AQ Midnight down below. Stickin' with the AQ as it's still good enough fer' my system. BUT got a wierd one foot silver pair of Kimber speaker stuff turned into a RCA pair. Ripped that apart and made 3 sets of "sorta" KCAG with the RCAs off the PBJ. Hey, sounds better!! I love silver!
So then I try the Zucable PC auctioned off here as of late.
Hmmm sounds wierd, (right off the PC cut my bass in half but gave the top new life. moved the PC out of the power conditioner and bass was back) but I can't go WITHOUT the PC. I try the system without the PC in and it sounds all woolly and dull.
So here I am, a NONBELIEVER in power cables really getting into powercables. Damn, I've spent several hunnert' bucks in the past month or so on cable stuff. Three G's for a real KCAG pair fer' mah pre/amp gap!
All I'm tryin to say is spend your BIG money on BIG stuff like AMPS and speakers, "killer" CD players. THEN play with the wire things. Buying 'em is easy in this site. and you can sell 'em if they suck (in your system!)(of course don't buy the ones I want!!!!! ha ha)
Oh... and mah system is round $11K and the wire stuff is 'round a thou' and rising fast!
Iwould NOT budget a bundle for cables... if I was start'n over I'd do what I done, build slow and savor the experience
i am flabbergasted that anyone would say that the purchase of a $3,000 power cord equates with a $15,000 increase in the price of an amp upgrade. where in the world did you come up with that figure? my system is worth considerably more (at msrp) than the one put together by metaphysics and none of it was bought used. all the wire in it comprises less than 5% of the total value. adding a $3,000 power cord to a $5,000 pramp is the equivalent, in my opinion, of stuffing a corvette engine into a geo metro; it may be faster off the line but it's still a metro.
I think that's what they said about the Shelby Cobra : )
I agree with you wholeheartedly even though i joked about what you said. Just like anything else, something that is well designed to start with needs less "finessing" than something that was "lacking" when it left the factory. Buy better gear and go and go from there. Sean
I'm with cornfed; the whole wire and power cord thing is the most shameless ripoff in all of the High End. Yes, good wire makes an improvement, but not a huge one, and the cost structure is so obscene it makes me sick. If you knew the markup on most brands of cable and cords, you'd feel like punching the next guy that has the gall to try and sell you this stuff at near-retail. Yes, I used to own pricey wire and I have an expensive system that can reveal wire differences. It doesn't mean I have to buy into this swindle though. But ultimately it's your money and your value system, if expensive wire works for you psycho-acoustically or psycho-somatically, than go for it. Me, I'm back to nice but sanely-priced wire from now on. And no more "magic cords" filled with nonsense and galling hyperbole. Hey, who wants to buy a $2000 power cord--it'll make all the difference in your system, I promise!! Yikes......
I am in the same boat almost as the original poster. I've got around a $70K retail value in my system and probably 19% of it is cable, wires, power cords and a Shunyata Hydra ordered. I agree that getting the big important pieces figured out at first is more important such as getting your "dream speakers' and the perfect amp to mate with them. Then getting front ends that you really enjoy and pass them through a great preamp is of the utmost importance. THEN, tweaking with good cabling and power management really finishes off the sound and seems to make the most difference becasue the transparency of the system allows it to be heard. I am into those final stages now, just getting the hydra, power cords and the last piece of some really expensive speaker wire. Each of these changes now brings me closer to the music and makes it more enjoyable. I don't think the "fringe" improvments would have made sense a few years ago before I got my transport, dac and speakers that I have now. But as I said the "other" stuff is about 19% of the total retail value of the system and I've gotten 70% of my equimpent used. Some pieces were bought new at very steep discounts too.
If you guys are reading this it means you probably buy at least some of your gear on line . At 40-70% off of list price. Unless you are the ruler of a country Spending
$ 3,000.00 on a power cord is nuts! I bought an MIT powercord from HCM for $ 99.00. 15 foot M2.4 Biwire monsters( list $ 1,100.00) for $ 300.00 Monster M10001 @ $ 115.00 M etc . By the way Dan from Krell uses Monster cables on his $ 35,000.00 speakers . I would never use lamp cord but lets try to be a little objective. One of the reasons high quality cables sound better is that they lower the background noice level & shield against interference.
I know they look cool , but if you find an electrical engineer that buys any of the cable hype, please let me know. PS I think the most noticable step I have taken toward getting closer to the music in my 30+ years of obsession with Audio has been my discovery of TUBES ! Enjoy the ride!
I have always heard 10%-20% of retail is a good pricerange to operate in for cable budget.Myself running close to the 20% mark.
Cornfed, that isn't quite what I ment to say. I was trying to say that if you have a $15,000 amp and three thousand additional dollars to spend, IMO a $3000 power cord will make a larger improvement than upgrading to an $18,000 amp. I would never say or believe that a power cord has greater value than the amp! Please give me a little credit. If I tried to equate it to your Vette I guess I'd say four new $800 high proformance tires would have a greater percentage increase than a $30,000 suspension upgrade. If this still makes no sense than I clearly am unable to express my thoughts on this. Which is why I'm an Architect and your an Attorny. Lets just leave it that I would spend $15,000 on an upgraded amp if I had the money, but the $300 I spent for a $3000 power cord got me quite a bit more than what I could have afforded in an amp. But I would be happy to take a charity gift if you really think I should have the amp. J.D.
Weiserb: Let me introduce myself as "that electrical engineer who buys into cable hype". That's me, among many others. I used to refuse to believe in any of this, until I tried it myself. Just as many of you do, I have a considerable sum invested in equipment. However, regardless of component quality, my results were always mediocre, UNTIL I properly cabled the rig. I don't even know how many thousand $ I have into cabling now, but I don't care because that's when I really began to realize the true potential of my gear. In one case I have a $2000 AC cord on an $1800 component, and $1000/pr. interconnects running both to & from it. Being admittedly jaded, I even think that that's ridiculous, but "you can't argue with success". Bottom line: Cables DO make or break the rig.
First, I would like to thank Metaphysics for starting this thread, as after reading it, I realized that I had never given this subject much thought. I've always approached the audio hobby experience as a journey. I've never thought about ratios or a formula for expenditures before. An ear for the musical presentation that I'm after and common sense create the framework for items purchased. After some thought and a little quick math I found that I've got about 10% in cables as well! I admit that I grinned a little at first as it took me by surprise. To be certain, we didn't get here all at once. Good cables led to really good, and then to some great cables. I've also bought and sold some "great cables" that didn't turn out to be so "great" in our system. I'll also shamefully admit that I have a military surplus PC in my audio chain that I purchased used at a local electronic store for $8.99. Oh, I've tried to replace it, but that damn cord just keeps working its way back into my system because it brings me closer to the music. Maybe there isn't a golden ratio in all of this cable business. Perhaps we've just got a touch of the monkier in all of us. That's ok with me, as long as I'm enjoying the journey and the music.
Glad to have stared this thread. The trend that I'm seeing is that a majority of you are in the same boat as me: 10-20% spent on cables and most feel it's worth it. Unfortunately, whether it is psychology or science, I have always found that more expensive cables within a line (e.g.Nordost, Cardas, Kimber) sound better than the less expensive ones. Another point is that most of us start out with the electronics and then continually change/upgrade cables because they're the easiest to change in and out(and sell and ship). However, if we could take all of the cash and build a system from scratch using this set amount(say $75k), would cables get this large a budget?
I think cable is one of the biggest(if not THE biggest) ripoffs in audio. Yes, wire makes a difference. And often, the difference is not insignificant. But, the markup on the product is beyond astronomical. I am always pushing for the kind of cable that comes in under $500, that is as good as ANYTHING out there. Even then, these companies are making money hand over fist. Before you buy from the really overpriced companies, check out companies like Coincident, HomeGrown Audio, and Silver Audio(along with the others we see here). To my ears, they are as good as you can do for under $1500, and they are all less than $300. I think you do NOT have to spend over $500 for almost any cable to get world class performance.
Thahks, Treljia. That is the exact kind of info I was looking for in my original post. Have you (or anyone) actually compared these cables to some of the bigger brands?
I have never done a comparison; I just buy what sounds good. I did place a $500 ceiling for one cable, but this does not stop me from buying a $1000 cable used for $500 like the Nordost SPM.
I guess I mean $500 a pair personal limit like Trelja. Hey Bob_Bundus: Mike Vansevers is another Pro-Audio guy who once thought cables and power conditioners were a bid joke; but now he is no longer into Pro-Audio and is now in the Cable and Power Conditioner business.
I guess I can recommend the Siltech ST-18 G3 intereconnects which list for $200 for 0.5 meter and then $25 per additional 0.25 meter ($300 for 1.0 meter). They are outstanding. Also check out on eBay "MAS" cables made and sold by Stu Wein in Pennsylvania. I bought his "Black" model silver interconnects for $50 and they were better than the $150 Van den Hul D102MkIII Hybrids. He is sending me his best "Grey" silver interconects for $80/pair which he claims will compare with $400 interconnects. I believe him based on the performance of the Black. He will sell direct outside of eBay if you contact him.
I agree that cables are the marked up more then any other product. I also think that they are one of the best bangs for the buck and should be considered as a component. Good cables are a must.
Metaphysics- I've done some of the comparisons that you asked about with the Coincident IC vs Nordost Quattro fil vs Kimber Select Silver vs KCAG vs FMS Nexus. All are excelent cables, but the Coincident and the Kimber Select Silver came out on top. They are quite different in their respective signatures, but in my system, preferrable to the others. I hope to compare these with FIM Gold IC in the future, but a relocation has temporarily curtailed my audio endeavors/spending. Ugh.
I almost always agree with the comments submitted by Trelja, and we are again in complete agreement. Unless you guys that are spending thousands of dollars on wire have entirely different hearing than me and my wife(I've been an audiophile for 40 years, and she has the most acute hearing of anyone I have ever known), or your listening environment is subject to lots of RF and other interference, you need to rethink your spending patterns. If you want to make a significant difference in the listening quality of your system, I suggest you focus on the room. Improvements to the acoustics of the listening area are often THE most signficant. You might think about acquiring a digital room conditioning preamp, such as the TacT, or have architectural changes made to the listening room. Just my two cents worth.
Add another vote to those who spent 20% of their system's MSRP on cables. A combination of HT ProSilway, AP Oval 9, Illuminations D-60, Synergistic Master Couplers and BMI Majiks account for one fifth of that spent so far. This ratio was reached almost completely by accident. Funny how the 80/20 rule creeps into so many aspects of life...
Still, while ratios of this nature are good as rules of thumb, the real proof is the end result. In this case it's the sound. Having started with old, heavily used, cheap-to-start-with cables I experienced first hand the difference decent wire can make. Being relatively new to the world of audio nervosa, the memory is still fresh and not overly embellished or diminished by the passing of time. That this perception doesn't originate from "psychoacoustic" phenomenae is borne out by the observations of learned associates (aka friends with good hearing and a knowledge of music). Without prompting they almost always picked out the differences in the sound after a cable upgrade. Mass halucinations aside, of course. Needless to say, my experience, like many of yours, has been that good cables have proved to be a worthwhile investment.
But isn't there a point of diminishing returns? Shouldn't the real question be about where to draw the line? If one spends $100K on a system should $20K really go on wire? Logically it seems that at some point on the spectrum connectors, wire, craftmanship and design don't, maybe even can't, get better. Especially by the magnitude necessary to justify the additional cost. Can $20K really buy more than $10K judiciously spent? Is there really some value there aor are the extra dollars just padding someone's bottom line?
My gut, which, lacking a great deal of experience, is all I have to go on, says at very least a lot of caution is warranted regardless of the price point because the issues are the same at the high end as at the low end. Lots of snake oil salesmen and a few purveyors of quality products providing real solutions. As the ancients wrote, "Caveat emptor." As I say, "Try not to make PT Barnum right."
I forgot to mention in my previous post that the current issue of "Listener" (march/April) has a feature article on interconnects, "Our Favorite Audio Cables". Ten of their writers/contributing editors discuss their favorites, etc.
I feel that speaker cables and interconnects should actually add nothing to the musical output; they should be as transparent as possible. Of course there exists a huge difference between quality cables and common 18 gauge wire, but I really do not think that the return-on-investment is great enough to warrant huge expense after a certain level is reached (technology is such that transparent cables can be produced with very moderate cost).. IMHO.
Sorry, Sdcampbell- I agree with you about the need for adjusting the listening room. Been there, done that. I'll still consider my money well spent on the expensive cables and power cords that I'm using. Is it self delusion? Well, not according to my wife and friends. Without the cables, the MUCH more expensive active components simply make sound, not music - the emotional connection to the artists and the event. That's precisely why I'm into high-end audio, not for concerns of profit margins or ratios. I've had lots of expensive equipment without high-end cables and power cords, and almost left audio because of the frustration. I've finally obtained a level of performance that thrills me everytime I sit down to listen, and I couldn't have reached this point without outstanding cables. We should all try to be informed and "buy smart" whenever possible. If you can find comparable performance at a lower cost, buy it. Otherwise, be happy that you've found a $1500 power cord that finally makes your $6000 DAC produce some semblance of music. For the record, I'm another EE that believes that cables can make a huge difference. Just my .02.
I run synergistic designer ref. on my components and iam very happy with the whole package.I have tried diff. cables over the years audioquest.kimber xlo and even lat.I think now i have found the best for me.Yes i think the cable issue is to expensive but most people think were crazy anyways(audiophiles) so what.
Try to enjoy if not sell it all and buy a BOSE
OK, if so many are convinced that very expensive cables are a rip-off, who produces cables that sound everybit as good as top-of-the-line offerings from the big boys, e.g. Nordost Quattro Fil, Cardas GC, Kimber Select, etc. IN A HIGHLY RESOLVING SYSTEM?
Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of bias is introduced because people with lower resolving (generally, lower cost)systems absolutely will not see improvements from expensive cables. They therefore conclude that Brand XXX sounds the same as the expensive cable in all systems. I would be curious to hear from those that have systems that retail for >$50k, yet have significantly <10% spent on interconnects and speaker wire and <10% spent on PCs. I don't mean to suggest that all >$50k systems are better, but I am trying to put this in the context of the most expensive cables.
Is there anybody using <$250/meter cable in a >$50k audio system. If yes, please let us in on the magic.
Finally, if the big boys have such huge profit margins (and they do) why doesn't our free market handle this by us favoring high-value cable manufacturers? Are we all just sheep following advertising dollars? In the pre-internet days, we could blame the audio rags, but now we have forums like these to disseminate reviews and therefore can only blame ourselves if we are being "ripped-off".
One more point. We must also consider that although materials cost and manufacturing are a very small percentage of expensive cable costs, it may take an awful lot of Non-recurring Engininering (R&D) to get to the design of that cable. I doubt that Nordost Valhalla costs 20X more to produce than Nordost Solar Wind (Hell, they look the same!), but it does sound a ton better and it probably required more R&D to get it that way.
I often find the prices of some of these cables to be incredible. Certainly it doesn't cost considerably more to use teflon as opposed to PVC, or one grade of copper over another. Making jackets and tubes, braiding or twisting etc can have their own additional costs involved, but stuff like that is done for all kinds of cable, computer networks, power transmission, video etc, and it doesn't cost very much. The cost of designing, testing, prototyping and perfecting a design go into making more exotic designs more expensive but I can't see that these projects would take so long as to drive the cost up to these high levels. I was just looking at the Kimber Kable site this morning, and again this afternoon - they have a brand new site up and running - complete with price increases. 4VS up $1/foot, 4TC up $2.60/foot - and certainly the R&D costs for those cables has long since been recouped and the manufacturing of those is nothing new. The thing I found most laughable on their site was the breakdown for BiFocal X, its $120/foot, but a whopping $600 for termination! Who is terminating these things? The designer himself at $100/hour for nearly a whole day?
Now I can see that one company needs to keep up with the Jones' in order to maintain a certain level of reputation. If they determine that their cables match the performance of another company, they must charge a similar amount otherwise they seem like a "cheap" company in the sight of their customers, but geez, isn't this getting out of hand?
I didn't believe that cables made much of a difference as long as they were a certain quality, so I played around some, comparing zip cord to Kimber 8VS to some cheap hardware store wire that I twisted and braided in a completely unscientific way - and the cable I made myself indeed sounded terrible, and the others steps better, so I can see that there is something said for certain designs, and using quality components etc, but I haven't had the guts to lay out big dough to try the multi thousand dollar cables. Seeing how the components and designs don't warrant the high prices, I don't ever think I could bring myself to spend such a crazy amount on cables. The price is dictated by the market - somewhat like a fine wine, where it may not cost too much more to process than other wines, but because it turns out so well, it has a greater value. But by the same token, you can detect a much greater difference between a $4 bottle and a $40 bottle of wine than you could tell between a $40 bottle and a $400. I think once you get beyond the $40 bottle, its a bit crazy to spend the $400 - unless you have plenty of money. Some people have spent a considerable amount on the equipment, and can now afford to tweak with higher and higher priced cables and that's where the market is for those items. I think there really is a point of seriously diminishing returns.
Hey, what's wrong with the rating system? Just tried to give high marks and the thing came back as negatives. What's up, Audiogon?
I just did some quick calculations that showed I had about 14% of my 35K system in "wires". I believe in good wire, but also agree with Trelja in that I think excellent wire can be had without going too extremes. Where I think most of the high value wire lies is in the middle of a reputable company's line, eg I use Syn. Res. Mid-priced ICs and speaker cables, and I also use their SR/MC power cords. When I went up one notch in Syn. Res. ICs, there was minimal improvement but a doubling of cost. I have auditioned some expensive PCs that sounded worse than my SR/MCs. I concluded that I was already beyond the diminishing returns area. However, If the cost of my components doubled to $70K, I maybe really could take advantage of even better wire??? Only you guys with the high bucks systems can answer that? Cheers. Craig
I agree with you Garfish. You need competent wire and competent wire does not come cheap - just like the tyres on your Ferrari. Somewhere between 10% and 20% is sensible in my experience, including PCs. Most of the issue is finding the cable that works with your components.
My experience is that a specific cable MIGHT work like magic between a DAC and preamp but fail miserably between the preamp and power amp. Since most people don't experiment with what cables they have and where they work best in the system, much of this goes unnoticed or is passed over even by many folks that consider themselves to be "audiophiles". The same goes for people that use all of the same type of cable throughout the entire system. From this post you can obviously tell that i DO believe that it is appropriate to "mix and match" different cables and cables from different manufacturers to achieve the best sonics possible. I know this point of view breaks a lot of people's rules, but it is what i have found to work best. Having said that, i look back to the article on Salvatore's site about speaker cable. He highly praised both Goertz and Coincident as being some of the best available. As most of you know, those two cable brands are quite "reasonable" compared to many others on the market. While i've "praised" Goertz both here and at AA, i've never tried the Coincident. Between his "ranting" and the others here that have spoken highly of it, i think that i will give some of them a try. The only thing that i find "goofy" about the Coincident's is that they "claim" to need TONS of time to "break in". Even though i do own two different "cable burners", i still have a hard time with claims like that. Sean
I admit that the hyperexpensive cable can make a positive difference in certain situations. But, I want to stand up and say that to think these products are better in the vast majority of circumstances is asinine. To think so is to admit that to have bought in to the hype. The hype is the reason that the "free market" does not weed out these companies. And to look at things objectively, it is not only the sole reason for not only their existence, but the fact that these companies have flourished. Now becoming firmly entrenched. In fact, the business is so plentiful and lucrative, new cable companies crop up at an incredible rate. There is no good explanation for the cost of most of these products, with the exception of things like greed. I used to be a chemist, developing thick film materials for the high tech electronics industry(conductors, resistors, dielectrics, conformal coatings, etc.). Some of the companies we sold to are in the highest echelon of high end audio. We won awards every day from companies with household names that used our products to make their products successful. The price structure for Product A(a low cost silver-palladium based resistor line - 0.1/1.0/10.0 Ohm)was that Asian companies bought it for $0.40/gram, American/European companies were charged $4.00/gram, and the US government/military/US companies(yes, the same who bought it for commercial usage)using it in military applications paid $40.00/gram. Of course, each carried a different product number, complete with different product literature/specs. But, the material was all culled from the same production lots. The whole thing was obscene. The government knew, and didn't care. They thought it was funny, even. As a US taxpayer, you best believe I let them know about it. They laughed it off; as if I was telling them the sky was blue. The fact is that companies charge the going rate. Selling for less often loses you orders. Buyers often feel your product is inadequate. I would love to hear a good explanation regarding the electrical/material science/R&D/manufacturing reasons of why a copper interconnect would retail for over $500. And as Arthur Salvatore notes on his website, these cable companies do not even manufacture their products. They buy them for cents on the hundreds of dollars, and pass the product along to us. While I do not pretend that my sub $500 cable list will beat every cable, in every system, in every circumstance, for every audiophile, I submit that this list will compete with ANYTHING sold in this industry. This list should not be thought of as containing great budget alternatives to the great cables, but GREAT CABLES on their own merit. Equal to their more expensive brethren. My list today(products I have heard - I do hope others chime in with their nominations) includes AudioQuest's old line(I saw 1m Lapis go for $112.50 here on auction Wednesday night), Analysis Plus, Coincident, Goertz, HomeGrown Audio, Kimber Select(copper) and the KimberKable line, Musical Fidelity's Nu Vista line, Red Rose Music, and Silver Audio. And no my system does not retail for $50K. But I would also assert that I can build a $5K system(mine does cost much more than that) that is more satisfying than many a $50K system. That statement in itself will also raise the indignation of many.
The best "budget" cable I have heard is Transparent Reference XL.
People who are willing and able to assemble audio systems worth five digits can spend whatever they want on wires. What always worries me is that there's some young guy lurking out there who reads that he should be devoting 20% of his budget to wire, and his budget is only $1500. Nobody like that should be spending $300 on wire. $30 is more like it.
We are lucky to have a few new companies popping up that offer outstanding cables, both signal and ac, at fair prices. Yes, we all lust after Valhalla and G5, but it's possible to come close, real close, without the second mortgage type of expenditure. With this in mind, I believe no more than 10% of system value is about right for cable investment. I have heard cables make the difference between good sound and outstanding sound, so I think them very important, but I do feel many cables are ridiculously priced. My system value at retail prices is about 60K. My cable investment including powercords comes in at just under 5K. Sonically, IMO, sound quality is exceptional.
I am guilty in this thread but I will say this once again, "a cables performance is system centric". Some cables sound better in different set ups. I recently auditioned about everything under the sun in my 2 channel system and settled on AudioQuest Anaconda for my interconnects and AudioQuest Volcano for my speaker wires. I also am a huge believer in the Shunyata Power Cords as I have witnessed a huge difference in sonic performance. (in my system) Anyway, my system is in the $12K range and I have about $4K on top of that in cables. Not too nuts but still a decent investment. Crazy, but that's how it goes..
I'm with Cornfed, Ckuipers, and other experienced audio enthusiasts who know value when they hear it. I don't know how many systems I have listened to that were terrible but had "great cables." _Kid, I looked at your system pic, great room! Good amp, OK speakers, bright and shallow front end. Get my drift? There are areas due for major improvement. With the money you spent on the power chord alone, you could have bought devastating speakers and a much more pleasing front end. The time to start putting big money into cable rolling is after you've maximized playback of your favorite music styles by choosing speakers, amp and front end wisely. I just had a good fellow who has a system much like yours, only he went all the way to the breaker box with super wire. Our two systems are similarly priced. Instantly, he knew there was a whole new level of listening satisfaction, much higher than he had ever dreamed of.
Cables are not an extra accesory you add later when you can afford them. If you don't buy some when you buy your equipment, you'll either be hooking your system up with unshielded "antennas" or, with the better brands who don't give you any, not hooking it up at all. People who make cable purchases out to be something cost concious people should opt out of are missing the point.
That the "better components" found in one poster's system "need less tweaking" is a blatently erroneous statement. The cables are for THE SOUND, not the component. It may be crazy to put a $5000 CD Player with a $300 amp, but at least the amp will be showing what it can do and not being held back.
As far as "active vs. passive" what exactly is the big difference? Any component can only make things worse. If a $75,000 system "deserves" $7500 to $15,000, but you get the cables that seem to get everything right for less, or more, that's fine. As far as the ratio, it was probably only invented to prepare customers at the beginning of a sale for the extra expense involved that they never count on.
To put it another way, how stressed out would you be getting about putting 55% of your money into the front end, or 35% on speakers if that was the Magic Ratio? It should really be more random than that I think, although an awful lot of people had 10% to 20%.
BTW, I realize this thread is dead, but people will still come across it, and I wanted to make My Humble Opinion heard.
...or not so humble...
Juicebox, buy whatever turns you on. Don't go into debt doing it, though, it's clear you are already suffering from cable madness.
The Jerry Springer Show would be a great place to hold this discussion. We could also take a few people who have disputes, too and bring some big 16 oz boxing gloves to have matters settled...in public! Of course, we would have pretty *mamis* in bikinis walking w/ signs between rounds...
If you guys knew what I'm using for speaker wire and how little I paid for it you'd flip. And it has specifications! Silver plated copper, 12 ga, 37 strands, twisted, Teflon insulated pairs & dipped in Teflon. Awesome performance for a mere $16.25 per 25 ft. The real deal.
The most perfect power cable is only as good as the romex in the wall!. I am sitting in front of my system right now (listening to a GREAt Oscar Peterson CD, I might add), contemplating a fancy power cord. My System is mid to lower cost for this hobby, with about $4400 retail invested with (2) sets of AQ Diamond XLR interconnects and AQ Caldera Bi-wre. (All bought used, total outlay about $1400). My Martin Logans seem to easily reveal the difference between these cables and the MIT stuff I started out with, so I do believe cable makes a significant difference.
I Also have some hospital grade Hubell receptacles. BUT: comming into the receptacles is a dedicated line I ran myself. It is a 60 foot run of 12 gauge Romex, bought at Home Depot. It connects through a Square D Breaker. The breaker is mounted to a plated copper bar in the breaker box, which then runs to the service. It Goes through the utilities meter.
So, If I buy a perfect power cord, the best it can do is take the power the 3 feet from the wall receptacle and deliver it to the amp.
Now, My classe 301 came with a fairly decent ICc cord, as did my Audio Research LS 16. I Think both of these cords are way better than the wire in the walls, and they sure seem like they would have less loss than my breaker box.
It seems like my cables should not be the limiting factor in my power system, so, I don't see why I would want to spend money to "improve" them.
Actually, the best money I spent yet on my system was the Tube Traps and other room tuning. I think, dollar for dollar, the biggest improvements can be had with room treatment.
Just my 2 cents. I will duck now in anticipation of the flames to follow;)
Let me have my 15 minutes of fame. We live in a less than perfect world. The only thing constant is change. Mistakes have been made & theor dis proven but what we hear and see can not be totally relied upon as TRUTH. Conserning the powercable. The device is only an extention of the power company that energy is transfered from and thru many substations & routes before it enters your home and finds it`s way into your system. No matter how refined the the electronic instrument is it shares the same energy matter that is common to all. We can not improve upon this at the present time unless we generate our own power which is possible if we have the cost effective means and the dollars to spend. Perhaps this has been tried. I don`t know. Any one who reads this and has ventured into or has knowledge of the same please advise. It would be interesting reading. As for the POWER CABLE QUESTION ??? After reading some of the threads I thought., HEY ICAN DO THIS MYSELF. Considering that all of the electrical service into my home was generic and copper ROMEX was behind the wall why not just extend the ROMEX as close to the system as possible and this would solve the whole problem. BUT being the finiky person that I am this was my answere to my own question to the neverending quest for perfection in Audiophileland. FIRST. A dedicated line was installed from the breaker/fuse box useing generic 12/2WG ROMEX. Making sure that the connection(s) in the box were clean and positive. Chemicals used to clean the wire was NoOx and De Oxit. The romex was routed as far as possible from all other wire to isolate it. The romex was threaded thru 1/2" copper household plumbing water pipe. In line prior to the wall receptical I obtained a DU-3 isolation transformer. I then installed a steel duplex receptical outlet box and used a 20 amp GFI dupex recepical. SECONDLY: I purchased a 5/8" copper shielded steel ground rod and hammered it into the ground. Next, I installed a ground wire to it and connected the ground wire to the copper pipe outside shielding to bleed off and RFI / EMI. THIRDLY; I made the connections in the receptical box makeing sure all connections were clean and with the use of DeOxit to perserve the same. NEXT. To extend the power from the receptical I used 12/3WG ROMEX and threaded it thru a lenght of FLEXIBLE CONDUIT. This was tricky but paste floor wax on the Romex helped. After the ends were cut & making sure I had enough wire to work with., I installed HUBBLE HOSPITAL GRADE connections on the respective ends The THIRD WIRE within the BX cabel was stripped on lthe end and bent back to make contact with the BX conduit. Thid served as a dielectric to reject RFI/EMI. My first instrment to plug into the service was MONSTER CABLES HTS-2500 MkII. All other components & instruments were pluged/connected into the system. Upon turning the system on the improvement was to my satisfact -ion and the noise was lowered much more than it had been before. Let me tell you this: It is so quiet that you can hear a mouse pee on cotton!!. SUMMING EVERYTHING UP. I would like to share this with you. You ask God to let you see straight and write strait. "A critic can neither see straight or write straight until he comes to terms with who he is, until he faces== indeed, embraces==the realization that what he knows, how he came to know it, and how his mind deals with the knowledge and how he presents it to others are all inescapeably individual, unique, and "SUBJECTIVE" that any other approach to his duties is mere dissembling". This is just food for your thoughts when reading others opinions and reviews and one must in his oun mind when evaluating the same -"Consider The Source" Thanks for your valuable time
just a few thoughts,if you are wanting to stop the noise look into acme true power conditoners and i am not sure what the gfci will acheive in that application
Why should it matter how much you spend on cables, as long as it sounds good in YOUR system?? I was looking at some new Purist Audio Cables. The new Musaeus 10ft bi-wire sells for about $550 and sounds better than the older Purist Colossus (about $1700) But according to your post here maybe I should spend for the inferior Colossus because the price is closer to my system value. Foolish...I will spend 550 and get a better cable.
Why does it always have to be about cost......What about sound, thats what I am going for!
As a response to Meta's question: "Is there anybody using
$50k audio system. If yes, please
let us in on the magic."
Well, my system is only $40K, and my wire is anything but
"magic," but since no one else has answered:
Wadia 860 CDP
Panasonic SV-3700 DAT
Fanfare FT-1A tuner
Audio Research LS-5mkII preamp
(2) Audio Research D-400mkII amps
Kinetic Audio Labyrinth speakers
All ICs/cables are DIY:
Canare L-4E6S balanced ICs with Neutrik gold-tip XLRs for
sources/preamp/amps. Parts cost: $10 per 6ft pair. Total
system cost: $50.
Canare DA-206 AES/EBU digital ICs between CDP/DAT. Parts
cost: $15 per 6ft pair. Total system cost: $15.
Canare 4S11 speaker cables. Total parts cost: $15 per 10ft
pair. Total system cost: $30.
No "upgraded" power cords or power conditioners.
Total "wire" cost for system: $95 or 0.2% of component cost.
As I mentioned in another thread, I used to swap out cables
a bunch in my previous system (XLO 3 was the last brand
name) before my system became fully balanced and I started
rolling my own ICs/cables.
Now I'm not going to tell you that these are the best ICs
and/or cables, etc. I will tell you that in my system I
have never bettered the resolution I achieve with my current
Canare ICs/cables. That includes other DIYs and brand names.
Maybe it's because they're DIY? Maybe it's because balanced
systems are less sensitive to cable differences? I don't
profess to know the answer, only that it has allowed me to
get off the IC/cable merry-go-round without looking back
But, the more important question: system investment vs.
music investment. With approx. 1700 CDs my total music cost
is somewhere near $20K (assume $12/cd) or 50% of my system
Right now (and for the past few years) my main focus is
increasing the music cost beyond the system cost.