High End and cables and tin ears....

First of all, most of my gear is of the non-commercial kind. In other words, you can't go into your usual places and buy it. I've ordered it online or had it custom made. That said, it isn't so much on the high end but better than the average bear's setup.

My question is, how high end of system do you need to really hear the difference cables can make?

I use Signal Cables in my system. They sound good to me. I've a got a friend that swears he can hear changes when we try out different cables. I can't hear a difference. I may be blessed with not being able to hear the difference and therefore not getting the need to get new cables.

Signal Cables makes several different kinds of cables. Mine are the starter cables, if you can call them that. They do a good job for me.

Which brings about another question. If I can't hear that big of a difference, if any at all, how low in the audio ladder can I go before I finally notice that it doesn't sound good anymore? If I get some really cheap Radio Shack cables will I hear a difference in quality? I've had some Radio Shack cables in my system before for test purposes but I can't tell the difference in one night's use. I need several weeks to get the full treatment.

Is having ears of tin a blessing in disguise?
Anything's possible, but you won't know until you try the Radio Shack cables.

No one can tell you what you will hear, 'cuz only you have your ears.
Next time you are with your friend, have him point out the sonic differences between a pair of cables. It's a learning process to recognize / observe the differences that can exist.

There's often much discussion that cables do not and can not make a difference. I find that as a system becomes more resolving, many cables out there can cause serious destruction of the system's magical capabilities. But this comes years after learning the subtle differences that once you become familiar with, are no longer subtle.
It may be a good time to avoid the hi fi merry-go-round.

Signal cables are pretty good from what I have read, just keep them and buy music instead!
My friend points out the differences all the time and I just can't here them. Of course, he is younger than I am and I've heard that as you get older you lose the ability to hear certain frequencies. I don't know if that is true.

For now, I am off the hi-fi merry-go-round. I've been on it and it can be a death spiral.
if they sound good to you, you're golden.

i've definitely heard $1000 cables.

one thing that a cable like a radio shack might not be able to do is prevent hum, though, i wouldn't think they're particularly well shielded or carfully soldered or crimped...
First, Thanks to Tom Hoffman at Advanced Audio in Cary in for teaching me to trust my own ears. Not many other retailers in this business have the guts to do that, but that's my point...

I was just upstairs, listening to some crazy Silver Ribbon cables (never imported, maker dislikes US market, slabs of silver, with exotic silver shielding) that run WAY over $1k per meter on loan from a friend/potential seller/agon buddy vs. a cable I got from another etc., etc. for $175, (used MAC Mystics). I was using BEL "the Wire" until a month or so ago.

Here we go: Oh, by the way, I use a spool of 24 gauge silver/cotton wire from VH audio for speaker wire.

The Wire: worked great in several systems (I change gear a good bit and enjoy it) nice cable, fabulous for the price. Previous cables used and replaced: Transparent Ultras, Purist Colossus/Dominus, etc, Siltech 88 and 110. So they're at least fairly good, esp at the price.

Current: MAC Mystic ( with thanks and apologies to Steve): Was there a difference: yes, at first, the MACs sounded horrific: suck-outs, bumps, humps. Unuseable, frankly. Then I bought a Audiodharma and cooked the crap out of them. Well? They are now in my 6 digit system. Night and day, Smooth, extended, quite natural.

Silver Ribbons: Jesus Christ on the cross! The drums are explosive, bass pedal points are incredible. Wait, do I hear?...Vocals not quite as clear as the MAC's. Oh-Oh, do they do midrange properly, is that a suck-out I hear? Is this a rock and roll cable? That bass sounds like my old Kubicki with my old 10 space bi-amped rack and lens horns, great! Wait a minute, what if that's a Jazz? Well, then that would just be wrong, right? Doesn't the acoustic sound a bit more natural on the MACs? Well, yeah, but it's eq'd in a studio, so maybe...blah,blah, blah.

Franks cables are great at every price point. I heard his stuff in a friends marvelous (and expensive) system and used them for a good while in one of mine. Franks a hell of nice guy and so's Steve with MAC.

Imai San, of Audio Tekne, a marvelous gentleman, told me bluntly once that his step up wouldn't work with my cartridge of the moment. "Slow down and buy more music". "Take a walk by the river".

If Franks stuff sounds great to you, it did to me too. Enjoy.

Stick around long enough and listen to lots of stuff and, if you're not careful, you'll be a crazy propeller beanie wearer (like me), wondering how old the caps in the mixing board were during the mix down, and why a Neumann is such a popular mike, given it's pinched midrange, instead of being moved (still 40 years later) by Clapton's second solo in Crossroads, Cheap Trick at Budokan, ANY Sarah Vaughn, or how great the new Eno/Burn, Wilco stuff is.

Mom (the ultimate right brainer) always asked how I could bitch after a concert. "Music is either beautiful or not beautiful", she said. Is it really that easy?

If you're not careful, once you go past that point, it can be a one way street: listen, enjoy and don't spend the kids college money on new wires...even though a second mortgage for these Silver things is starting to make since to me the more I think about it:)
weird, part of my first post got cut off there, maybe i used some symbols that aren't recognized by the forum software...

what i tried to say is that i've definitely heard some sub-100 dollar cables that sound better than some over-1000 dollar cables, so cost isn't the determining factor on cables, for sure.
Let us put 'blind' into the mix. Do I deny that some people can hear a difference in cables, no. Do I believe 'double blind' testing/comparison is the only true way to compare, yes. Most double blind comparison's have found that price tells you nothing. In the end, your ears are 'golden'. Get a dealer that will do loaner's and try different cables. The one that sounds the best for you, is the one to go with. Try not to know the price when you are auditioning cables, for if you do, bias will set in. I have had $5 cables that have sounded better than one's that cost $7K. You figure.
I use Signal Cables in my system. They sound good to me.

That's really all that matters.
If your ears and mind are satisfied; what/who else matters?
Mr Rodman99999 has it right. Personally I only change cables when something doesn't quite sound right or I'm looking to gain something.
Why spend money on anything you can not hear. My hearing was professionaly tested. It was as good as it gets. I had a friend over who could not hear the sonic attributes of my system. Why should he or you spend money on something you can not hear.
It's safe to say that if you don't hear any difference on your current system, then you shouldn't upgrade your cables.

You might find that on a different system - not necessarily any "higher end", you do hear very significant differences between various cables.

That's my experience - a long time ago, I tried a few different cables & concluded they all sounded more or less the same. I concluded that cables were just another way for dealers to make profit. Only many years later did I discover that cables can make a real difference (sometime huge) on many systems that even my 50 year old ears can easily appreciate. For me, it seems that the more transparent the speaker, the fussier my ears are about the cables.