How good does my system have to be to realize an improvement with cables?

I've heard the difference power cables and interconnect cables in a highly resolving system so that's not the question.  $200 for cables  on a $500 DAC doesn't make sense to me.  Wouldn't that $200 be better spent on a better component?  At what point is an expensive cable the best choice?  Spending $500 on a $15,000 DAC does make sense as the transparency and resolution of the component could be better realized with a better signal / power source.

My question is what's the  percentage of the overall component's cost should be the cabling and at what point should it even be considered?

Or put a different way How would you know if your cables are your weakest link?





250 posts


If your cable is of sufficient size gauge and well put together your off and running.

Agreed. My Audioquest Hurricane power cord is a testament to this statement.

A percent figure based on the quality of your system (rule of thumb) is Total BS.


Once again - totally true. At one point I had Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper interconnects on Rogue RP-1 preamp. They retail higher than RP-1 and they made a huge difference.

Better components if you’ve cash to spare is the way to go. As said a million times build / set up your sound room as to compliment your system.

Another good advice. I can’t disagree here. Looking back from my experience the money would be better spent on upgrading the preamp (which eventually happened).

Again having well made proper gauge cables should be the end game, that said PC’s will do Nothing to the tonality of your system !!

That’s a fact! Beethoven’s 5th will remain in C minor irrespective of the power cord on your amplifier as long as it’s proper gauge and is plugged into the wall on the AC connector end and into your amplifier on the IEC connector side  






For context, here's my system with approximate retail prices:

Bluesound Node 2i ($600)

Audioquest Cinnamon Digital Coax ($100)

Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2 ($300) with Sparkos Labs OpAmps ($150) and 1950s Western Electric Tube ($100) and Pangea AC-14XL power cord ($250)

Audioquest Sydney Interconnects ($200)

Pathos Classic One MkIII ($3,000) with 1960s Mullard Tubes ($100) and Waudio Power Cord ($50)

Blue Jeans Cable 10AWG speakers cables with ultrasonic welded banana plugs ($100)

Focal Chorus 836v speakers ($3,000)

I had used all Blue Jeans Cable cables until I decided to see what differences I could hear in my system by swapping some cables.  I started with a couple of Waudio power cables that I picked up on Amazon.

Power Cords: The Waudio power cable on the Pathos Classic One MkIII is the only power cable that's resulted in a clear audible difference in my system.  I have tried a Waudio and now Pangea power cords on my DAC and cannot say that I've heard a difference.

Interconnects: I started with Audioquest Chicago and was impressed enough to upgrade again to the Sydney and again heard a clear difference compared to the BJC.

Digital Coax: I did not hear any difference between the Audioquest Cinnamon and the BJC.

Speaker Cables: I have not tried any different speaker cables because they are sub-optimized in my system out of necessity with a custom switch that allows me to connect both my Pathos and home theater receiver to my speakers.  It would take two sets of cables and I would still have the switch, so it doesn't seem like a high value proposition.

I didn't start playing with cables until I was pretty set with my components.  Prior to the tube rolling in the Pathos, I don't think it would have been possible to hear the differences in cables.  That upgrade really took my system to the next level.



Hi danager!  If you bought your gear at WalMart, cables probably won't help. If your gear is from well known, quality companies, it's worth an experiment. Are you using ordinary lamp cord for speaker wire? Lots of us do. It should be 14 gauge or larger (smaller number). Get some used cables on line (you can return them if they don't improve things), good ones with a good reputation. Do they help? Are they worse? Your system is different than everyone else's. What works well for Mr. X may not work for you and vica versa. USB cables are critical. Not many people seem to talk about that, but it's true. Amazon has nice Chinese power cords for $50. Worth a try? I use 'em. My pals do too. Are there better ones? Sure, but if you get a noticable improvement for $50, be happy!  It like a marriage partner. They only way to know - is to marry them. An expensive, risky proposition. Cables are the same but much cheaper. Happy Listening!

Since many of us have “upgraditis” I bought the best cables I could afford knowing that I will probably upgrade my dac at some point. I went with Transparent Power cord and Transparent XLR’s with Reference Quality. I have a Lumin T2 and when I switched the power cord from Lumin and the XLRs from Audioquest there was a significant improvement in detail, bass and clarity as well as the soundstage. This is why I am now a converted believer in premium cabling making a significant positive impact on your SQ.


Let us know how you make out!!.

+1 on the ~10% general guideline

Lots of variables in the equation and there appears to be no ceiling in the upper end cost 

Though there are are some price performer gems, while not the best sounding cable, that still sound great and provide better ROI

Just to name a few in my limited travels

Audio Envy


Silversmith Fideliums

Users of Blue Jean cables consistently provide high customer sat ratings as well

Enjoy the journey