How to choose the kind of cables for your system?

I am one that believes that cables do make a difference in my system - it either make it or haiz ... lose it...?

How much to spend? is there a gauge... hope your hear your views on this...

Hi Clarrie

There are some that say 10 to 15% of what your system costs or what it's MSRP was is what should be spent on cabling for your system.

For me since my gear is mid range budget gear I bought cabling according to that. I also checked the A'gon forum archives to see what other members have used with the same gear I have to get an idea.

If you're an audiophile, the answer is: how much do you feel comfortable spending on cables?

If a cable costs $2,000.00, $3,000.00 or more, and it makes a difference that you really like over a $500.00 or $1,000.00 cable, is it worth it to you to buy it?

There is no hard and fast rule, it's how you see things.

Ten percent of total system cost as a rough guide to the total amount spent on ALL cables: Powercords, interconnects, speaker cables.

This 'amount' is a good compromise between the 'wire is just wire' crowd, and the 'exotic cable are the MAN!' crowd.
I have average $5,000. spent for each main component, and for ALL cabling have very close to 10% spent on cables.
If I add in the cost of my power conditioners, that rises to 15% of total system cost (I do cheat, as the power conditioner is also used for the video stuff, so i allow part of the power conditioner cost for video. If I excluded video, the total of all cable and PC cost would be 18% of system... Rather high I have to say.. but i like my power conditioning!

My take on cables is if you are going to exceed 10% for cables, you would be better off spending that money on basic equipment costs.
I have reiterated this philosopy many times over the years.
A bunch of folks think spending way more on cables is wonderful. Fine, no problem for them.
My advice is for the person who does not know, (like the OP) what sort of budget to make for cables. 10% works great.

Good luck.
FWIW cables do make a differfence but how much depends on a lot of things but especially your expectations and your listening skills balanced with your check book balance.

What I would do is to buy some inexpensive cables which are a high value, sonically and financially, and use them as a bench mark to compare with other cables as they come and go to finally settle on what you like best and are willing to pay to get.

I'd start with some Canare 4S11 cable. Pretty good stuff I think and about $1+ a ft bulk.
If your system is revealing enough there is no limit to how much you should expect to spend other than your budget. Every step up or change will be evident and in many cases as significant as major component changes. Best though to try different cables in your own system and develop a sense of what to expect for your dollars. That said, I'd start by sampling some of the stuff available through the Cable Co. This will save you much time and money.
What are some good power cables for the amp?
Interconnect for amps, preamps cd transport - looking at balanced/ XLR...
ZAes/ebu digital cables
Speaker Cables..
My system is about $36000
Actually I don't mind spending more than 10% for cable ... Just want to get the system to sound right and good...
Your question is very difficult to answer. Every single person that responds will give you a different answer. Thats OK. We all have to make out own decisions on how we choose our audio components. This is how I do it.

I feel the best way to pick the best cables for your system is to properly match your components. Cables do make a difference but I feel that most audiophiles have unrealistic expectations when it comes to cables. They ask too much. Every time I try a cable that makes a "big" difference, even if I like them at first, almost always fail over long term listening. In my system, I don't want cables that make a big difference.

Also, people always try to use cables to fix problems in their system. For example, a very common complaint is high frequencies can be too harsh or bright. In that case, the real problem may be a metal tweeter. I feel the best way to fix this would be to get a speaker that has a soft dome tweeter. Many people would not agree with me and buy cables (and sometimes tubes) to fix the problem. This almost never works.

In the end, if you match your components properly, you only need to buy cables to do what they are meant to do in the first place; transfer the signal to the next component. Doing it this way makes it very easy to choose cables. Not only that, you'll save a lot of money.
Check with the cable company tell them what equipment you have and see what they suggest. You can try before you buy. Also contact the Mfgr of your equipment and see what they suggest. Let them know your musical likes and dislikes. Good Luck to you!
Power cables, cheap and good: Pangea power cords.
The 14SE and the AC9. Both good cords.
THe AC14SE for sources and preamp. The AC9 for amps.
AC9 is also good for tube preamps.
Only one dealer exclusive. Audio Advisor.
I have all Pangea in my system. A great budget powercord.
All I need.
It was the first powercord I really could hear the difference. I am pleased
I did buy some Pangea 9SE, but they are only a little better at three times the price of the Ac9.
So the Pangea AC9 is the best deal.

For interconnects I would buy Kimber PBJ as a great low cost interconnect.

What are the prices of the cables you mentioned?
Shop at Blue Jeans cable and be done. Read what they have to say about cables. If you just want to spend money for bragging rights, get the ones with the highest MSRP.
I think you need to audition the Silver Resolutions from Signal Cables. Very reasonable and outstanding performance. Talk to John, he can suggest you based on your equipment and requirement.
Elizabeth, you have a nice set-up, and I respect your oppinion so I'm going to take a second look at the pangea cords. They have gotten some not so great reviews though, as some have found them to be too bright sounding after they are broken in, but again, I respect your oppinion more as I feel like I know you more than them. Do you have any experience with the signal cable powercords? I recently bought some signal cable silver resolution xlr's and love them, so I was thinking about giving their powercords a shot too, but maybe I should just go the pangea route instead...
I cant bring myself to spend more than 500.00 for any cable.For me it just does not make good sense to spend more than that.


You're in Singapore if I'm not mistaken, so I don't know if The Cable Company will be able to assist you with their lending library of cables.

You've said that you have a Pass X250.5 amp and are asking about good preamps in your other posts. So you do have good equipment, and like HEW stated, a revealing system allows for the better reward with higher quality cables.

The question that everyone here talks about is: does high quality also infer high cost?

I once had a high quality system that consisted of an Accustic Arts CD transport and DAC, a Herron tube preamp and Herron monoblocks. I used Stealth Indra interconnects and it sounded really good. A tube went out and blew both monoblocks (my fault for the second monoblock blowing trying to diagnose the problem because I wasn't familiar with tube gear ).

Anyway, when I sent the Herron preamp and amps in to be repaired, I brought my old B&K preamp and amp out of the closet. I hooked them up using the Stealth Indra interconnects and I couldn't believe how good they sounded!

So, it seems that hooking up even modest components with high quality cables will show you how much better they actually are than what we expect out of them.

That brings us back to high quality versus high cost. I haven't listened to new cabling less than $500.00-$1000.00 for so long, I don't know what's out there. There are plenty other members making recommendation that are worth exploring.

I will say this, I've gotten rid of all of the backup cables that I had with two exceptions: a set of anticable speaker cables which aren't even broken in, so I don't know how good or bad they are, and a 40 years old set of blue Nakamichi unbalanced interconnects that I will never get rid of because they're still that good.

Being in Singapore, you may have to buy to try cables. Elizabeth is a very trusted member and has a very nice system, so the Pangea power cords are worth trying for sure.

I would recommend trying these power cords:

It is a very good power cord that I used myself until I went up one more step to the top of the line X20. The Running Springs Crown Jewel HZ is actually a CH Acoustic X15.

If you like it and decide to move up to the X20 at a later date, the X15, or Crown Jewel HZ, works great on your TV!

Hi all,

Thanks for the input... Continue to recommend power cables. I need to get two pairs of XLR interconnects and an AES/EBU digital XLR... recommendations...
I would check out the mojo audio power cords check and they have demo units that are discounted for their already low prices. The owner is attentive and very interested in helping and recommending the right cables for your gear. They have a money back guarantee if you don't like them. For me I bought two cables one for my DAC and one for my amp. I spent a few weeks going back and forth between the mojo cables and my ref power cords. In the end I sold both of my ref cords which retailed for 3k and kept the mojo cords that cost around 200 each . Grover Huffman cables are the same way major bang for the buck and money back guarantee. I think you could just get a complete set of Grover Huffman cables for everything and it would be cheap and you could end the cable agonizing right there. You don't have to spend big dollars to get good sounding cables.
$$ are not the immediate main driving force behind your choices: Some cables sound better with your gear than others - facts, pure and simple.Because if this, you are relagated to a journey to find out which work well, and which can even make your gear sound like crap.

Start by investigating (a) what the dealers use; and (b) better still, what the manufactureres use at the major shows. Then compare that to your own experiences and your budget. .

Next comes the "rule of fifths": once you hit a certain quality and related price point, you can lay out 5 X the money to get a further 20% increase in performance. Is it worth to you? That only depends on the individual. HEW nailed it in the reply above:

" ... If your system is revealing enough there is no limit to how much you should expect to spend other than your budget. Every step up or change will be evident and in many cases as significant as major component changes. Best though to try different cables in your own system and develop a sense of what to expect for your dollars..."

There is no escaping that swapping in and swapping out alternatives will the only litmus test as to what sounds best in YOUR system. Most of the testimonials in A-GON are only biased personal opinions with no basis of fact or measure of assurance that their choices will actually work in your system. I have personally experienced where a $1,000 power chord sounded inferior to a $250 power chord, and the differences were not subtle. Conversely I upgraded my speaker cables and ICs to the $6K range because of the quantum inprovements just as HEW highlighted above.

Suugestion: get your audio buddies involved and try to get a loaner from the dealer or a friend for the week-end to experiment. Let's remember that this is a journey and rarely -- if ever -- a destination.

Lastly, a blind cheapo swap-in is usually just that at best, and may actually work out worse. You do not have to blow the wad, but the time honoured axiom that you get what you pay for generally rings true.
I am getting a full set of Grover Huffman interconnect and speaker cables. You have been very complementary of his cables and looking through your threads you have tried a lot of different cables. Can you provide more of your thoughts about Grover cables and how they compare to some of the many other cables you have used. If you want to take a look at my system my audiogon member name is sgunther. Thanks

Excellent post. I'm not so sure that I agree with the "rule of fifths". Other than that, though, very good advice. I think the best point you make is that its very common to get better results using a low cost cable than an expensive one. I couldn't agree more. Sometimes you get lucky and a cheap cable just happens to match better with your equipment.