I need your expert advise


I am relatively new in the high end stuff. In fact, I am really probably more in the mid-high end with my gear. Being a novice makes deciding on speaker cables a real challenge. There are so many, all with those glowing reviews. My current system is PSB Stratus Goldi speakers, NAD Silver S100 Preamp with companion S200 amp. I currently have a NAD 515 CD player (my next upgrade). What I need is your expert advise on speaker cables. I am searching for a 10ft external bi-wire set up. I am currently using Monster Z2. They are fair but I'm sure I am missing something by not having better speaker cable. Room size is very large with cathedral ceilings. Speaker cable budget is $500-$600. I am more than willing to buy bulk cable and terminate it myself to save some $. When you are new to this hobby and don't have all the years of trial and error experience on cables, it can really be tough to make a selection. My musical taste is mostly jazz: Pat Metheny, John Coltrane, Eric Alexander etc. I like a warm but dynamic sound with deep punchy bass, smooth mid and crisp highs. I can't handle a bright, sharp or edgy sound. I play it loud. I'm thinking perhaps Geortz M1 2, Analysis Plus, MIT t2, DH Labs Q10 but I am wide open to advise from those who have been there. Any suggestions for my set up would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
boski
Why are you sure you are missing something by using the Monster? Have you tried other cables and found the Monster wanting? The reason I ask is that one can have a vague feeling that something is wrong ONLY because a component doesn't cost all that much, and then fixate on that idea, and that leads to a lot of $$ spent unecessarily. What exactly is wrong with the cable's performance?
The chances are, if you are unhappy at all with your sound, it has more to do with the speakers voicing, or the treatment of the room, or the speaker room interation. Mixing and matching cables for tuning the sonics will be very expensive and time consuming and the time is better spent in my opinion.
It just turns out that other choices tend to be more rewarding, i.e., subwoofers, room treatment to even out the response, etc.
Except in a very limited sense, cable is pretty much cable and spending more than say $100 on speaker cable is, all things considered, not worth it when other avenues pay more dividends for the $.
Basically, if you can't handle bright edgy sound, don't listen to edgy recordings... the amount of brightness introduced by a cable pales in relation to the amount of edginess already present in the recording and the preceding electronics.
I would not spend $600 on cables until you see what a good subwoofer can do for the sound in a big room. Consider the Hsu VTF-2 for instance. Less than $500.
Put the 600 into a proper source.
That will get you more bang for your buck.
Take a step back figure out how much you can put into a source.
The 600.00 you have will move you way up the digital food chain.
Boski,
You did not mention your interconnects. You can have great speaker cables but if your interconnects are your weak link, your sound will only be as good as what that weakest link is capable of transferring to the next component of your system.
I think Natalie's advice is good, if by "good source" s/he means good recordings. Good recordings sound good even on cheap CD players these days, expensive CD players never make bad recordings sound good and will barely scrape anything new out of good ones that your NAD won't. Cheers!
Tacs your way off base,The nad is so far down the food chain that it is the weak link in the sysytem
A rega Planet 2000, MF A3CD,something in this range is required.Even a NAD silver series player will lift this sytem a few rungs.
Tacs: I am pretty certain that Natalie is referring to upgrading the CD player. Sorry, but suggesting that one limit their musical library by the quality of the recordings seems a bit ludicrous to me.

Boski: I would upgrade the player first (to something that really sings for you) and look into cable after you are familiar with the sound of the new unit.
You did not mention what you feel is missing with your current system, just what you are looking for.
In my experience even an inexpensive ($500) CD Player will suffice for all relatively inexpensive systems (<$5000). I doubt that changing the CD player alone will give you a startling upgrade (i.e. will be low bang-for-the-buck).
Without knowing what you would like to add it's impossible to make cable recommendations. The previous post asking about interconnects was also correct ... interconnects have an equal bearing on the sound as speaker cables.
Please before you do anything find a friend or a dealer who will let you audition a set (both I/C and speaker) of quality speaker cables. I would recommend JPS Labs cables as I am quite familiar with these cables and think they would match well with your setup. Another strategy is to buy and sell through the used market as your purchases will not depreciate much during your trials.

The other suggestions are good but I think the NAD gear is good and I have had bad experiences with the Monster.

Good Luck

John
I have many questions to cover. I'll try and cover them all. It is not that I am unhappy with the Z2 cables, I'm just thinking (maybe too much and wrongly) that I could do better. I'm looking to enhance the sound in an attempt to squeeze every ounce of performance out of my system. It really isn't lacking or bad, it's just that I want to hear the music in the best possible way. Maybe I have just been reading too many of those reviews and write-ups on all those speaker cables. By the way, are there ever any bad reviews of speaker cables? Be that as it may, I think now that Natalie is right. My weak link may in fact be the cd player. As for interconnects, well this could be another weak link. Between the pre and amp I am using Canare Star Quad (XLR)which I terminated myself. I also have DH Labs Silver Sonic BL-1. CD player to Pre is Better Cables interconnect which I am told is really nothing but Canare Guitar cable. The sound I like is exactly the way the music is live. I think perhaps the Monster z2 cable is somewhat forward or glaring but I must say the bass is not bad.
I have been lucky enough to gain some very good cables at reasonable prices, some here at Audiogon. When I had "mid-fi" gear and tried cabling that was almost as expensive as my hardware, it really did improve sound greatly, so I suggest you get the best interconnects and speaker cables you can afford first, (try Audiogon's classified, where some Acoustic Zen and Harmonic Technology cabling can be had at more than 50% off). Then, change your CD player if it isn't satisfying. You can then use your cables with your new CD player. The Monster wire is a good beginning towards the benefits of good cabling, but there are better choices to be made without breaking the bank, good luck.
I have been lucky enough to gain some very good cables at reasonable prices, some here at Audiogon. When I had "mid-fi" gear and tried cabling that was almost as expensive as my hardware, it really did improve sound greatly, so I suggest you get the best interconnects and speaker cables you can afford first, (try Audiogon's classified, where some Acoustic Zen and Harmonic Technology cabling can be had at more than 50% off). Then, change your CD player if it isn't satisfying. You can then use your cables with your new CD player. The Monster wire is a good beginning towards the benefits of good cabling, but there are better choices to be made without breaking the bank, good luck.
I don't know anything about the Monster, but I do believe that the NAD CDP may be the present weak link. You can certainly do a lot better for $600 used (maybe even consider a used DAC; could get a Muse 2 and a decent digital cable for $600).
I had a NAD 515 changer for a while and sold it to a friend. It betters many "single disc" players that cost more money. It is not "revealing" or lively sounding, as it does have the "house NAD sound". It is pleasant, warm and smooth without being fatiguing in the least.

Having said that, going to a CAL Delta and the original CAL Sigma made a MONSTROUS change in my perception of cd's and cd players. MUCH more involving, musical, airy, spacial, etc... For the money, that set-up is REALLY hard to beat in my opinion.

As to speaker cables, i found the Goertz MI-2's and Analysis Plus Oval 9's to be on extreme opposite sides of the fence. The Goertz' were very musical and full bodied sounding and the AP's were VERY bright and tizzy sounding. Obviously, results and opinions vary on this one. Sean
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Thanks to all of you for your advise.
I think you should do some serious listening to you system. Sometimes, the music is disappointing because the recording and mastering are poor. I've noticed that some tunes that I love sound just awful on my system. It's not my system's fault, because it is just revealing what is put into it. If you find a clear pattern of weakness in your system after some critical listening, then it is time to consider changes in components/cables or other tweaks.

I'm a strong believer in the "source is all important" school of audiophilia. When you think about it, there's nothing that a preamp, amp, cable or speaker can do to improve what is fed into it. You may be able to add different colorations, but that's about all a different cable, amp or speaker can do for you. What you ideally want is to is have your system "get out of the way" of the source component.

Trying to "tune" a system with cabling should be your final consideration. Decide what CD player, amp/preamp and speakers you like first. There's an incredible number of dogmatic cable gurus around, each one proclaiming that a certain cable will cure the problem in your system. Beware, switching cables endlessly is an exercise in futility. In my experience, you will probably notice more of a difference when switching interconnects rather than when changing speaker cables.

You should think about auditioning a new CD player or DAC before buying expensive cabling. Find a good dealer who will help you. Don't trade with dealers that want to sell you a box a force your out the door. Good dealers usually offer auditions of their equipment before the sale. Trying out cables on the used market is an excellent idea when you get to that point. No matter what the "experts" say, a given cable may sound quite different in one system in comparison to another. There's no substitute for listening and deciding what you like the most. Enjoy the music, don't drive yourself crazy worrying about the wires!

T.H.