Cables - Where to begin?

Hello all... man you guys have sucked me in fast. Not too long ago I would have scoffed at the idea of spending >$50 on a power cable, but here I am. So it begins:

I am currently running a Jolida 302B (stock preamp tubes, Svetlana matched EL34's) with Soliloquoy 5.0s and a Philips DVD963sa. Speaker cable is Canare 4s11 biwire and IC is an older mid level monster cable.

So I am looking at IC's and PC's...I'm looking to spend $100 each or less (the less the better.. I'm a student here) on two PC's and a good IC. The DIY PC is now my style, but I'd consider doing DIY IC's. Any ideas?

The REAL QUESTION: how do you guys go about auditioning these things? Do you buy a bunch nd return the no-gos or just do research and try to throw the dart at the right target so to speak? Do you have local dealers that are willing to loan you cable?

With so many options, it seems daunting to really make th eright decision. $100 is still a bit of money and I want to make

There are a lot of threads in the A-gon archives about power cords and interconnects, so I won't try to recap them. A good starting place to shop for these items is HCM Audio, which offers close-outs on many of the best known brands. Here is the link to their Web site:

Good shopping!
A good source for "trying before buying" cables is The Cable Company ( They sell both new and used cables as well as lending them out for trial.
For PC's, at right around the $100 mark you can build a 5 ft. DIY cord using JPS in-wall cable, with Marinco connectors (8215 male I believe is the # and 320 IEC). This power cord will stand up well against very pricey company; those I have recommended it to have said it is substantially better than the Synergistic Master Coupler and in the same league as cords like the Acoustic Zen Tsunami. I cannot do a head-to-head in my system, but would say that it is the equal of or better than the 2 Cardas Goldens I own which retail around $370. Performance is said to be very close to the JPS Power which retails at $450 and there have been sellers of JPS Powers here at Audiogon that simply replaced their cords with this DIY version at less than 50% of the used price of JPS Powers.

IC's might be a bit tougher; if you can find someone who has a few extra feet of 47 Labs OTA to part with (you'll need 12 feet or so for a pair of 3 ft. IC's) for say $30-$40 and another $30 for Eichmann Bullet Plugs, you'll have a dynamite IC. I've used Kimber PBJ, Kimber Hero and Silver Audio Silver Bullet 6.0's (which were substantially better than the Heroes) and sold the Silver Bullets because the Eichmann terminated OTA was a ton better.
Take a look at the offerings at Chris VenHaus' Website
Check out Ernie M's DIY power cord kits. He's here on Audiogon, just do a search for Ernie and his info should come up (he's also known as Subaruguru). His kits are inexpensive and the product performs well.

I have one of Ernie's PCK12+G power cords and it outperformed a Tara Labs cord and a DH Labs cord - both retailed for a LOT more. I don't think that you could get a better bang-for-the-buck, IMO.
I just acquired a used Virtual Dynamics Power Three, about 100.00 dollars or so. I am mightily impressed with this PC. Having compared MIT Zcord, Transparent Powerlink plus, and Signalcable Magic power. It is easily the best of this bunch.

I equally impressed with a custom DH Labs BL-1 bought from A’gon member Drubrew. This IC compared very well against Signalcable Analog 2, Monster Cable Reference 2, and Transparent Musiclink 100s. Less than 60.00 dollars with WBT RCA termination.
I ordered 3 of the PCs from a few weeks back and put them in my system - finally rid myself of some stock cables. Wow! Probably the best "bang for the buck" I have spent so far. I paid just $48 for each cable. I tried some $450 PCs from a few of the big name companies, and these seem to be their equal to my ears.

Good luck
as far as ic's. if you can stretch a little more, here a couple of suggestions.

the coincident interconnect is a fantastic ic cable. they can be had for $140 to $160 used. this is "the" bargain high end interconnect in my opinion. the only cable i have found to be a smigen better is the xlo signiture II.

also wireworld eclipse and polaris ic's are very nice too and can be had for the $100 to $150 range.

hope that helps!!

Two cable companies that sell quality cables at reasonable prices are Alpha Core, and LAT International. You can get copper micro-purl interconnects from Alpha Core for less than $100 per pair. LAT power cords can be had, used, for a little more. You would probably have to spend a lot more to beat these wires. I have both, and I'm not thinking about upgrading. At least not for a while. Good luck.
I wish I could say that there is an easy course ahead for you, but there is not. In some cases you can get a 30 demo. period, such as for the RS Audio Cables $99/1 m. ics I would recommend, but other companies do not have this expensive option, such as Bogdan, which I also recommend. One thing I am certain of is that none of us who respond to your quiry, have enough experience across cables to answer the question of which is the best. Nor do we share the values that would allow such an evaluation. The magazines are no better as they seldom can wait the necessary time to allow the cables to break in. Finally the performance of cables varies from component to component. Good luck!
Used Acoustic Zen - Do the research - Pay the extra bucks - AZ cables work well with most systems - Yes, you can do better, but it will cost you much more - Enjoy!