This is just one man's opinion, but I don't really recommend getting heavy into cable until the system gets to the point where it warrants spending some actual money beyond Radio Shack (or the like - AR, Monster, etc.) cabling.
You have a nice CD player, and decent speakers. I'd look into upgrading your amplification, then loudspeakers, before thinking about wire.
Don't trust an addict. That advice may have you ignoring this and other posts though, so you figure it out! Trelja gives you some good advice. Your investment, at this point, would be better spent elsewhere for more significant rewards. Also, though all the factors you list may indeed have an impact on the sonic quality of a speaker cable, more than any active piece of hardware you spend your money on, the price you pay for cable does not necessarily have a direct corrolation to the sonic rewards you get for your dollars. There are great cables to be had for a relatively small investment, and you can spend big $ on cables that may leave you shrugging your shoulders and wishing you hadn't trusted that post you read on A'gon by user 'BigAudioBonehead' that told you of "Jaw-Dropping transformations that will cause you to stay up all night long listening to your entire music collection...blah-ba-de-blah, blah, blah!"
I recently was able to achieve a dramatic improvement in my receiver-based system, not with speaker cables, but with the IC from DVD player to receiver. (I am using the receiver as pre-pro, and listening to CDs using the multi-channel input on the receiver) The IC involved was a set of Canare wire ones I got thrown in on the deal when I bought my DVD player.
Not being satisfied with my audio on CDs(lack of focus and coherence to music), I was looking through one of my boxes of stuff, and saw an old set of Tara Labs RSC ICs I had gotten years ago.
So, on a hunch, I connected the Tara between the DVD player L/R multi-channel outputs and the receiver multi-channel inputs.
Whoa! It was an amazing difference in the clarity, and coherence of the music. Much more enjoyable to listen to.
I am now looking to upgrade my 5 ICs from the receiver to the power amp.
In Audioholics Speaker Cable Faceoff 2
, the Cardas Crosslink speaker cable measured Rs 4.3 mohms, Cp 30 pf, Ls .117 uH.
In Audioholics Speaker Cable Faceoff 1
, the Soundking 12 awg speaker cable measured Rs 3.18 mohms, Cp 13.7 pf, Ls .203 uH.
The Belden 8214 spec sheet says 1.2 mohms. 26 pf, .065 uH if I am reading it correctly.
I did order a 14awg x 3 power cable by Volex 17604 to upgrade from stock 18awg cords.
I should have done as much research on cables as I have on my other components. The Radio Shack stuff even seemed expensive to me at the time. My wife would say, these cables aren't broken, you turn on the radio and music comes out, what more do you want? I saw one comment that someone was disappointed with a cd player mod because he expected the skies to open up and golden notes to come from his speakers. Is that too much to ask?
It seems for $30-60 per cable I can get respectable quality. It seems Blue Jeans, Signal Cable and Element are reasonable vendors. Take Five Audio, Ram Electronics, Parts Connexion, and Percy Audio carry good parts too. I'm trying to minimize decision paralysis. Any one of these will probably be good enough. My next upgrade will be a Denon 2910 dvd. A new amp will need to wait.
Thanks for your time.
Trelja and Jax2 have good advice. Invest your money in the other parts of your system. Amplification is a good place to start for what you have.
Look into QED, they are a British company that sell reasonably priced cables that improved the sound of my system. Qunex 1, 2, 3 or the Silver Spirals. I think the Qunex 2 are pretty good (I have them on my Denon 2200 multi, I also own the Silver Spirals, they are on my VPI Scout), all of these cables have won lots of awards. QED also makes bulk speaker cable so you can solder your own interconnects. As for other components Musical Fidelity Integrated, and Polk LSi15's I would not spend more on cable, my next upgrade is the Vandersteen 2cE's and the Graham Slee Mark V phono.
>> It seems for $30-60 per cable I can get respectable quality. <<
Hey, for $4.95 you can get *very* good quality - check out the Music Boy/Petra cables at this link:
I re-wired my entire system (removing all the Monster Cables) for less than $80 and it sounds great.
I know reference level interconnects that cost $99. Really. They compete with anything out there. In fact, they are EXACTLY the same as a highly regarded cable that sells for $1400.
However, I see you getting bogged down in specs and measurements. The only thing that I will say is that drinking by the label, in audio as well as life, is a recipe for a lot of bad things to happen. Honestly, you will often not hear differences in cabling until other things are right.
I myself have put together what I considered high level systems which I could not discern meaningful cable differences in. It wasn't until I learned more did I realize that it was then time for cable. Not to be condescending or anything else, but your system is not yet there. You are much more wise to invest in amplification, then speakers, and music all along the way. But, we all need to learn on this journey, and if you are intent on trying cable now, have a ball. At the prices you are talking about, you aren't going to get hurt.
Trelja says it best I think, a lot of great advice.
Take everything you read on Audioholics and really think
about the advice, and who it's coming from. There is a very fine line between Audioholics and alcoholics!
Just kidding, I sneak a peek there from time to time.
Trust you ears, not your wallet!
For some further views on "objectivity", critics, and using what you got on the sides of your head, you may find this thread
Hi Fred you're on the right track IMO. I highly encourage you to upgrade your interconnects & speaker cables, just don't go overboard by keeping things in perspective with your existing equipment.
UNfortunately I can't offer any specific recommendations at your price-point, although there are surely many budget-line cables that would do you a world of good. Case in point: my younger brother with his plastic Pioneer CDP, consumer-grade Kenwood receiver, little Infinity speakers. I had some old interconnects sitting unused, probably $10 or at most $20 a pair, & some classic Monster speaker cable. When we were visiting with their family, I installed my castoff cables & my brother was completely amazed at the improvement. The guy is a computer geek; complete non-audiophile, yet he heard the differences with no problem at all. We even swapped around some different pairs of my old budget cables to find out which pair most pleased him.
To get over decision paralysis, I just purchased some used Cardas Quadlink 5C speaker cables from usedcables. If I don't like them, I can trade them for anything else they have (and they have about anything). So far I'm really impressed with their program.
Fokara, how are the besl speakers? I am thinking of trying them out for a 30 day trial with the subwoofer bases. They would be replacing my venerable B&W Matrix 804's.