I own a mid-fi system: CEC TL51x $1500 Wadia 12 $500 VPI Scout $1200 Lyra Dorian $800 Rotel Pre and power $1000 Clearaudio basic $300 Impulse speakers $3000 Wireworld atlantis 5 $500
Total about $8300 my gut feeling tells me spending more then $200 per interconnect would be a waste of money. Soon my phono pre, pre and power will hopefully be replaced my an intergrated. Meaning I need 2 interconnects. Right now I own a Cardas Hexlink 5C and a Cardas Golden Five. I asked an "expert" on what interconnects I should use and he recommened JPS Labs Superconductor 3 or Synergistic Research Tricon. Both cost around $800 each for 1 meter. Isn't that way overkill for my system? The same for powercords would it be a waste to spend more then $50 on them, none of my power outlets are grounded.
Sure I would like to believe that expensive cables have a positive influence that is why I bought the Cardas some time ago. But I am really not sure if they are better teh a $50 wallmart cable.
I don't know your speakers but, other than the Rotel, the balance of your system is considerably better than mid-fi. When it comes to cables it is very personal. Some people claim to hear huge differences. Others claim to hear subtle differences with concentrated listening. Others claim to hear no difference. You really need to listen and decide for yourself if they are worth the cost. Don't buy based on a review or the opinion of someone else. I think there are differences but I don't believe anyone who claims to hear orgasmic differences between cables. I believe they are deluding themselves to justify the expenditure in their own mind. Just one man's opinion.
Rather, think of it as wire that's better adapted to the requirements of sound reproduction... IOW, here, more expensive is only better selectively.
Anyway, JPS is an interesting wire. However, at the cost, I would hesitate (unless funds are plentiful) and probably opt for solid-core cable instead, for interconnects. There are plenty of alternatives; one cheap alternative is DNM.
Let's not go to Walmart for cables. It is against our religion as audiophools. Home Depot for DIY is respectable even Rat Shack would be better. That said your amp isn't in the same class as the rest of your gear. The amp is the heart of a system , it is the engine of your system, save your money get that amp first, you can buy used Signal Cable for now it is very inexpensive and good enough. I bet You will see that a good integrated or monoblocks with a pre are much better, and don't be scared off by tubes. Obviuosly mono blocks and the peamps in particular are expensive but man they can be incredible, I found Nirvana with Opera Consonance Cyber 800s which are tubed monoblocks 75-80 wpc and a used AES-3 pre also tube but only two. The AES-3 cost me 350 or less used what a steal I wish I could find a phono stage as good. Either an integrated or a better power amp will take you a big step forward heading to Nirvana. BTW I like Cardas too but once it is in the chain you get the effect downstream so don't worry about that.
Others will disagree, but $800 is much better spent elsewhere, IMHO. There is absolutely nothing wrong with ordinary Walmart cable in most cases. How much is better construction, better shield, better looking and better connectors worth to you? Fundamentally, wire is wire - and there is nothing toxic about Walmart wire - except perhaps lead paint on the connector??
If it makes you feel more secure in the knowledge that you have a couple of impressively priced, high quality and rare interconnects then go for it. (For some, eliminating the agony of doubt/fears about their system sound quality is worth this price)
To clear things up a little bit, the intergrated amp I was talking about is a Symphonic Line RG9 mkIII. I have tried an Ayre AX-7 amp but that just didn't do it for me. I felt the amp was running out of breath to early. The S.L. is a bit more powerfull and can always be upgraded to a RG10.
Instead of spending $800.00 on cables, you might want to spend the money on an electrician to run dedicated lines with upgraded outlets. A power line conditioner may be of benefit as well. And yes, you will hear the difference from these upgrades in greater dynamic range and enhanced blackness of background, at the minimum.
A good quality van den hul cable, as Jaybo suggested, should last much longer than a walmart cable. In a humid environment (Netherlands?), cheap cables will corrode more quickly (discoloration of the copper under the jacket) and with many cheap cables the jacket becomes stiff and may eventually develop cracks irrespective of humidity. These are good reasons to get a better cable and only you can decide if this is enough to offset their higher cost. Like a good quality car a good cable may be more expensive but can be expected to last longer with lower maintenance/running cost. Just two cents.
If you're considering to take the plunge (for this purpose I will presume you'll upgrade to the Symphonic Line or something similar as a new amp), don't do it half-heartedly. Having said that, $200 for an IC (or should that be EUR?) will certainly buy you good stuff, however, whether it will better your Cardas is for you to find out. Since you're in the Netherlands look up the Tweedehands section on www.hifi.nl where you will regularly find a number of Siltechs, among others, on offer (e.g. right now there is a SQ28 G3 interconnect for EUR 150). $50 for a powercord on the other hand won't bring you anything, just wasted money. Kemp powercords have been offered on hifi.nl starting from EUR 70 and that is, imho, really the minimum you should be willing to look at in that respect. For second hand also look up www.audiomarkt.de and then of course there is the Gon, but if Dutch customs are as greedy as German don't forget to add 24% duties on sales price + shipping cost to your total expenditure. And by all means stay faaaaaaaar (can't possibly get enough a's in there) away from ebay. For buying new, a well kept secret and overachiever when it comes to powercords is High-End Netzkabel by Kalle Miltzow (between EUR 70 and EUR 250) http://shop.strato.de/epages/61385824.sf/de_AT/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61385824
Btw the Synergistic Research Tricon Analog is indeed the best phono cable I know but I agee it looks a mite out of proportion...
Cables can make a difference. Or should I say cable types. I'm running Kimber Hero's through out my system. I had a pair that I was going to use from the tt to the pre..... Well, that didn't work. Very bad hum. So, I put the cheapo cable back on until I find a fully shielded cable. So now I'm running the Kimber from my $20.00 ebay find NAD FM tuner...... The cable cost 5 times the tuner..... go figure...
%5 to %10 of total system cost reserves for cabling in a high quality audio system is not out of line. JPS Super3 may be overkilled but SuperQ is not if you prefer JPS. Our second system totally wired with JPS SuperQ and it was awesome as far as smoothness and natural sounding are concerned.
Well, for what it's worth, I'm currently just getting underway with a complete system overhaul/upgrade from equipment that is decidedly more mid-fi than what you had listed, the important bits for the purpose of this discussion being:
As part of this process I've been working with a great local dealer who was kind enough to loan me a Cary DVD-8 universal player along with a pair of 1m Harmonic Technology Truth-Link ICs (Retail ~$400 IIRC) so that I could audition them in the context of my already familiar and well-known setup.
I decided to do some A/B comparisons with a pair of ~$45 Blue Jeans LC-1 cables and another pair of generic radio shack/wal-mart cheapo cables that had been sitting on the bottom of a drawer for god knows how long.
To say the least, I was extremely skeptical that I'd notice any kind of significant improvement at all, especially using the rest of my current gear.
Well, I'm not done auditioning things yet, but on the first round of comparisons using a handful of SACD and DVD-A discs, I have to admit I was wrong.
The difference between the Harmonic Technology cables and the bargain basement ones was very noticeable, with a very pronounced improvement in high and middle frequency reproduction, much lower noise floor, and just a bunch of other qualities that my limited grasp of kitschy audiophile terms won't allow me to effectively convey in writing.
Comparing the Harmonic Technology to the Blue Jeans cables resulted in differences that were certainly far more subtle than those I found in comparing to the cheapo cable, but they were certainly there and noticeable, just far less pronounced.
If I had to put things on a relative scale from 1-10 right now, with the Harmonic Technology Truth-Links being a 10, I'd have to say the Blue Jeans LC-1 ranked a solid 8, and the cheapo cables a 2 or 3.
Long story short, my revised opinion after this evening's listening session thus far is that if you're using bargain basement cable, investing the money in some higher quality, solidly built ICs is worth it, but whether or not it's worth it to make the jump from a $50-100 set of ICs to a $400+ one really boils down to how important it is to you and your budget to get that much further.
I'd have to agree with several of the other posters in this thread, though, putting that money towards an amp or other hardware will probably get you more bang for your upgrade buck.
As with anything else, if YOU can't hear the difference it's a waste of money. If everyone around you persists in raving about the Emperor's new clothes, that's no reason for you to pretend that he ain't naked. Listen carefully, rely on YOUR perception, and make an intelligent value judgment.
"Cables are they worth it?" Yes - keep the Cardas. A really great inexpensive interconnect for around $130 is the Cardas Twinlink. I'm using all Golden Cross, which is my favorite, all bought here used on the 'gon. My advice - Keep all your equipment but ditch the pre and power amp and save up for some really good amps.
Thank you for all the advise, I think I will hang on to my Cardas interlinks for and save for a nice amp (2nd hand). I know this this the wrong thread but do any of you have experience with Symponic Line amps? Also thinking about buying a tube or SS pre amp and keep the Rotel power amp (RB-1070) for now. There are so many options that for me it is sometimes difficult to see what would be the best option.
All other advise it welcome, I have been in the audio hobby for about 5 to 7 years now and there must be lost of people out there who have a lot more experience then I have. feel free to mail me if you want.
In short, no - an $800 interconnect is ridiculous. Likewise for a $50 power cord. I am sure someone would sell an $800 doorstop also - because it will "just hold the door open better". THere is one huge advantage to expensive cable and power cords - it allows for large profits. Good old Belden cable or any other reputable big name manufacturer will work just fine. You can terminate your own interconnects for that matter. Look at the cables used in other areas of electronics that either deal with low level signals or feed power to critical equipment. The power cords on ventilators are nothing special and they keep people alive. The interconnects on biomedical research and clinical equipment are also not particularly special - I worked in that field for decades (background is EE). What you are sending between your preamp, amp, source etc is just information - it isn't even in a form that is all that difficult to deal with - it's rather high level (certainly not in the microvolt range) the frequency range is not difficult to deal with, you don't have dc offset problems. Don't you think that information that determined patient treatment would use $800 interconnecting cables and expensive power cords if there was a reason to. (Some manuf did use lo leakage pwr cords for electrosurgical units - but I doubt that you are going to use your amp for any surgery in an OR)If you are worried about induced noise, what is important is whether you have a balanced connection or alternatively, a properly grounded or common driven shield as the case may be. That doesn't add any significant cost. As to a power cord - there is just no reason to not use any power cord of the correct wire size. A much more important area to consider is providing a good ground for your equipment.
An audiophile was being rushed to the hospital after a heart attack. The paramedics revived him in the ambulance. Firstly, when he woke up, he was extremely upset and said he would sue them for using an ordinary power cord on the defibrillator. Secondly, he made them turn around and go back to his home so he could bring his own set of power cords and cables to the hospital.