Help with speaker cable under $500 for new system


I know very little about speaker cable and have never owned any but "budget" cables. I have just bought the following:
Hegel 160 Integrated Amp
ATC SCM 19 v2 sealed box speakers

Will be set up in a large open greatroom with speakers about 10 feet apart (need one cable about 4 feet and the other about 12 feet). I listen primarily to jazz, blues and reggae at CD quality streamed from an iMac to the Hegel.

Help me find the right speaker cables under about $500 a pair? Am happy to stay with Bluejeans or Monoprice if the difference won't be really noticable.

The components tat you purchased are high performance ones. You have set a nice budget for the speaker cables. Is it possible to get cables of same length for both the speakers?

I very highly recommend the Clear Day, from my experience.
Talk to Paul and based on your system, he will suggest you the right config. These should be excellent in your system
I think the Cerious cables are an outstanding value.
Canare 4S11. Spend the money you saved on music.
"Help me find the right speaker cables under about $500 a pair? Am happy to stay with Bluejeans or Monoprice if the difference won't be really noticable."

This is no way to go about this. You'll just end up throwing your money away. Set your new system up with the cables you already have and just listen to it for a while and let everything break in. After you have had a chance to get used to your system, call The Cable Company ( They're the biggest cable retailer and they have demo units of all the cables they sell. Before you commit to a purchased, they'll let you try a bunch of cables first so you can make the right choice. And you don't have to spend $500 either. You may end up liking a $200 cable better than a $500 cable. Its not about how much money you spend, its about properly matching your components.
AntiCables has an in-home trial. I did the Cable Company Audition, which was too much fun BTW, and the ACs beat Audioquest Rocket 44s, which were more expensive. Wound up spending my credit at Cable Company on a USB cable, so it didn't go to waste, CableCompany doesn't carry AntiCables.
Second the Canare 4S11 super value, the folks at Blue Jeans cable can terminate a set for you for little $. From recommendations on a earlier thread I am currently using Mogami W3104, excellent cable too, bought mine here
Mogami W3104

Good Listening

I would recommend Audioquest GBC available from HMC audio...flexible and they use quality connectors. Prices are quite reasonable. A 10ft. pair will run you 150.
I bought a 8ft. pair many years ago and it still remains my top budget s/c.
What Zd542 said. Good advice.
I second the Clear Day suggestion. Great sounding cables and within your budget.
3rd the Clear Day plus Paul does allow an in home trial period. These made a huge positive difference in my system. The music became so much more palpable...very well fleshed out.

I do agree with Zd542 about first getting used to the sound with your current cables. I think that is absolutely essential. Also - unless you get lucky (someone replies that has the same gear and room config.) most of the responses (like mine) will be other people's favorite with no guarantee they'll sound as good with your gear or in your room. An in home trial period is key. Clear Day, Morrow Audio, Audio Advisor are good in this regard.

Certainly, take advantage of the Cable Company's lending library if you can, but they don't carry everything (e.g., no Clear Day, no Morrow Audio).

Good luck and have fun. Enjoy your new gear. Maybe even before cable you should consider room treatment (a couple of GIK panels behind your speakers can make a world of difference).
I also agree with ZD on this. Let your system break in and take time to get to know it. Then try cables. Congrats on the new system!
Thanks so much to all. Great advice. I have been in contact with Clear Day (their trial does not extend to Canada, but good to work with) and Morrow and will make a decision in the next week or so. Happy sounds to everyone!
4th on the CLEAR DAY speaker cable sound amazing from day one for less than $500.
Regarding the several recommendations that have been made for Clear Day: Assuming the goal is for the cable to behave in as neutral/accurate a manner as possible, and given the 12 foot length you require in one channel, I would caution against using anything less than the double shotgun version.

For example, the single (two conductor) configuration is described as consisting of a single pair of 24 gauge silver conductors. In a 12 foot length, and given the 8 ohm nominal impedance of your speakers, the resistance of that cable would reduce the effective damping factor of your amplifier from its specified value of greater than 1000 to about 14.

-- Al
Thanks Al, I will keep that in mind for sure. I notice that Morrow has 25% off on their cables at the moment, but you would still go with Clear Day?
02-04-15: Ptolomy2
... but you would still go with Clear Day?
I'm not recommending for or against the double shotgun version of Clear Day, as I have no experience with it. But I am cautioning against the single and shotgun versions, assuming as I said that the goal for whatever cable is selected is for it to behave in as neutral and accurate a manner as possible. The gauge of those two versions is simply too narrow for a 12 foot length, IMO, even after taking into account the slightly better conductivity of silver vs. copper.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
I second the Cerious cables. I use an 8 foot set in a tube system w/ Wilson Witt II's.
To the OP, do any of the systems of the people recommending the Clear Day cables look similar to your system? If not, then why would you think those cables would work in your system? Cables are very system dependent.
I will just have to take my chances I guess as I don;t know nearly enough to understand what silimarities and differences in their systems might mean for which cables to use. I do appreciate your insights.
WyWires Blue... Alex will take good care of you
I literally buy all solid core 100% silver cables for my system because they're sound different. IMHO they usually sound slightly better, but if that's all in my head and that's all that matters to me. I just go for the most enjoyable experience for under $500 such as Clear Day or Connex Silver Cable etc.

I will just have to take my chances I guess as I don;t know nearly enough to understand what silimarities and differences in their systems might mean for which cables to use.

My advice is the same as many others, don't rush into it. I can tell you from my experience, I hated the endless cycle of purchasing cables, then reselling them.

If you are using Blue Jeans or comparable, just listen to your system while it burns-in. The best move I made was to contact the Cable Company and talk to a rep. He knew my gear and asked what sound I was looking for and after a few trials, I'm very happy with my spkr cables. I actually decided to go overbudget because the lending process was so easy.
"02-04-15: Ptolomy2
I will just have to take my chances I guess"

Any time someone tells me I have to do something, my answer is - I don't have to do anything! Especially when its one of the other voices in my head.
I would not overthink things. You have received two recommendations for Canare 4S11, which is an optimal (star quad) geometry for speaker cables made with suitable copper and relatively inexpensive. One of those recommendations was made by a successful speaker manufacturer. You can buy the bulk cable dirt cheap and terminate it yourself by crimping on $2 ea. solid copper Vampire spades from Partsconnexion, or you can pay someone like Blue Jeans Cable to terminate it for you at a somewhat higher price.

The only reason I might consider something other than the Canare, in your situation, is that I tend to prefer solid core cables. My typical low cost recommendation is Audioquest Type 4, which is two solid conductors at 17awg and two at 20awg. Connect a 17 and a 20awg wire in a star-quad configuration (connect the wires diagonally across from each other together for each pole-pos and neg) and you would have just less than 15awg total aggregate area for each pole. This may not provide as full a sound on the 12 foot run. Other solid core options include AudioQuest Type 8, which is larger (I believe 12awg) and can be economically purchased and terminated by Audio Advisor, or the previously mentioned AntiCables, which many enjoy.

Personally, if I were you, I would either build a pair using the Canare cables (connect the two diagonal wires for each pole) or the AQ Type 4, or I would purchase the AntiCables. You may want to consider keeping the difference in cables no greater than 50 percent of the longest cable run.

If you are concerned with the gauge of the AQ Type 4, one thing you could consider is running two full cables to your LF binding posts (one full run each for pos and neg), which would result in almost 12awg to the LF driver, then a single run to the HF posts, configured as a star-quad, as discussed above, for 15awg. I suspect that would sound great. You can purchase the Type 4 cable in bulk and crimp on your own spades. A small amount of heat shrink applied with a hair dryer and you would be all set.
I have been trying different "budget" cables for years, among them Anti cable ICs and speakers, some home brews and even some Tara Labs. The Clear Days in my system were a revelation. The ICs which are not always available actually made the biggest difference.
FWIW, I have used the Canare 4s11 sold by Blue Jeans as well as some 10ga Belden sold by Blue Jeans. I have used them both in 15' lengths and to my ears the Belden is much cleaner and balanced than the 4s11 used in a single wired configuration making it into, effectively, 11ga. I've never used it in a biwired configuration for which it was originally designed an which effectively reduced the gauge to 14. The Canare is more attractive though :-).
Again thanks to all for lots to think about. Mitch, your advice in particular is perfect for me.
For that matter, OP would not know ANY of the recommendation that folks would make. If he would have know which cable would work in his system, he would not have asked for a recommendation :-)

That is why I suggested him to talk to Paul at ClearDay first, instead of requesting for demo.
I would not worry about lower DF. Inductor in series with the woofer has resistance in order of 0.1 ohm limiting DF to 80 anyway, not to mention that speaker's own impedance is mostly resistive. Even 4 ohms would make DF=2. Additional resistance in series shouldn't contribute much. Less than 10% would be ideal (0.4ohm). I would worry more about reactive inductance of the cable at high frequencies (higher for thinner cables). Assuming 0.4uH/ft your 12' cable would have (both ways) 24ft x 0.4uH = 9.6uH. Reactive impedance at 20kHz would be 1.2ohm. On the other hand tweeter's impedance can be pretty high at 20kHz making it unimportant.

I'm using Acoustic Zen Satori. Silky smooth and fast. It should be within your budget (used).
Audioquest CV6 used if you can find it is very solid and affordable.

Other than that maybe consider pro wires like Mogami for good no nonsense value overall.
Hi Kijanki,

The resistance of 24 feet (12 feet per conductor) of 24 gauge solid core silver is about 0.57 ohms, corresponding to the damping factor of 14 that I had mentioned. That in turn being almost in tube amp territory.

23 gauge copper has a significantly lower resistance than that. Would you use 23 gauge copper for a 12 foot speaker cable, and not expect it to introduce perceivable colorations/inaccuracies relative to the MUCH heavier gauges that are more generally used? I note, btw, that your Satori's are 10 gauge, having about 1/20th the resistance of 23 gauge.

Best regards,
-- Al
Al, 23 gauge copper is not that different (0.489 ohms).
Damping factor of 14 is OK since, as I mentioned, speaker
itself limits it to <2. Atmasphere amplifiers have DF<1 and
are highly praised.

I'm not sure how significant difference in colorations would
be between DF=2 and DF=1.8

Choice of higher gauge might be more practical - 23 gauge is
fragile to work with. Also, there might be cables much
longer than 12ft where it will start playing role.

My cables have very weird construction with multiple wires
on huge hollow tube. My suspicion is that they want heavy
gauge to reduce inductive reactance but at the same time
split wires to avoid smearing by skin effect that starts at
about 18ga/20kHz. Stranding itself wouldn't help since
current would jump from strand to strand (bad) to outside
while insulating strands helps a little, but they are still
in magnetic field of each other. Possible solution is to
place them on the hollow tube - so that they are in magnetic
field only of the neighboring strands, or weave them into
flat tape (for the same reason). It is all black magic, but
at least I can see what they are trying to achieve. What
puzzles me is presence of one single strand that is
insulated but stranded again inside (10 tiny strands).
Going by engineering principles would make us to buy only a
lamp cord from Home Depot :)
"Going by
engineering principles would make us to buy only a lamp cord
from Home Depot. "

Is that so bad? There are many other effective ways to tweak the sound. I've put conventional stranded 12 gauge speaker wire into the mix with my gear on occasion out of necessity and have lived to tell. :^)

Back in simpler times, I just recommended lower gauge heavier speaker wire, usually 12 gauge, for everyone if possible and they all lived happily ever after, as far as I know.

I suspect most pro wires follow the same simple principles to produce durable and good sounding speaker wires. There is something to be said for that.
Kijanki, the output impedances of the most popular currently produced Atmasphere amps are in the 2 to 7 ohm area, corresponding to damping factors ranging from a bit more than 1 to about 4 (for an 8 ohm speaker). While those amps are indeed very highly thought of, Ralph/Atmasphere would be the first to admit that his amps are not suitable matches for many speakers, especially given that a considerable majority of available speakers have presumably been designed with the expectation that they would be used with solid state amps having high damping factors/low output impedances.

I certainly agree that the importance of damping factor is often way overblown, especially when the numbers get into the hundreds, not to mention the thousands. But at the same time I don't think it should be ignored altogether, especially when the numbers get into the low double digits. And especially when a solid state amp is being used, and what one presumably wants to hear from the amp is its intrinsic sonic character, not its intrinsic sonic character as modified by avoidable cable effects, even if those effects are small.

Best regards,
-- Al
Get generic 12ga, stranded, copper speaker cable. You can pretend you spent $500 on it if that makes you feel better.
Al, I agree but since source/speaker resistive impedance is likely at least 50% of nominal impedance (perhaps 2/3?) making best overall DF you can achieve equal 2. I would avoid using anything that can lower it further but additional 0.5 ohm would lower DF only by 12.5%. - all assuming that amplifier doesn't contribute anything.

Of course we assume that lower DF effects will be, if anything, negative, while in many cases (overdamped speakers) is perhaps the opposite. We often claim that low source impedance (voltage source) is the best, but then we enjoy higher output impedance (power source) of tube amps.

High DF chasing might not only exclude great cables but also promote selection of poor sounding amps with deep NFB.
Used Analysis plus cables jump on them.
I have been using Kimber Kable 12vs speaker cables in my system. The thing I found with all Kimber Kable is that they have a great value to quality ratio. You are not paying for a name like you do with audio quest and some of the other cables that are out there. I have called and talk to them several times when looking for advice and always get great information that is pretty unbiased. My recommendation though is if you have a way to audition cables in your own home, try a few different ones and see what sounds best in your own system.
Mapman, I buy Monoprice 12 ga. in wall speaker cable to provide to my friends who are inclined to use 18ga (or less ga.) zip cord. I believe that cable works well for, and improves, those budget systems.

I also buy inexpensive shielded interconnects on E-bay which are also passed on. Many are quite good in the appropriate system, again better than the unshielded versions that comes with equipment.

Just a little help for my non audio hobby friends, who when they observe my KK12tc on risers question my sanity (again).
I'm inclined to side with Ebm.
For the price they usually go for on here AP oval9 ,.or 12,
would be hard to beat.
Agree with the Oval 9. Have not heard the 12. When checking price be aware there have been three versions of the Oval 9.
12 is quite similar, just a tad less "robust" .
Yes there are 3 versions, but as they all sound good not a problem. I use 9 as a reference because it seems to sound the same on any speaker.
I've never spent more than $500. Monster THX Ultra 1000 is the worst choice I made, sounded muffled, the connections inside the black "head" thing where the +&- split broke internally. I found some used Kimber 4pr for a bargain and they were far superior over regular 12g twisted copper cable. But I now use Teflon coated solid 18gauge silver jewellers wire and it's better than the Kimber and cheaper. You just can't go over about 12ft in length. The highs might open up too much detail for some, I could imagine.