I'm with Driver on this one. Buy some cables of decent build quality at RS or Best Buy and then do some shopping around. This will give you tunes and allow you to compare how well expensive cabling holds up to "the bare necessities" in direct comparison. If you can hear a difference and think that the more expensive cabling is worthwhile, then go for it. If the basic cabling that you buy delivers the goods, save your cash.
The key here is to find dealers / manufacturers that allow a trial period with no penalty for returns i.e. a trial period. My thoughts are that interconnects are FAR more diverse in system synergy than speaker cabling is. That is, once you get the speaker cable right : )
I would also second Driver's recommendation for VH Audio's Pulsar
cabling. This cable is a very solid design that is certainly capable of very good sound / performance. It might not be just a "hair" less open sounding and articulate than the other two mentioned here, but i don't think that anybody could ever be hyper-critical of this cable for what it costs. It is a great bargain as far as i'm concerned. Even at Chris' normal pricing for the assembled versions, they stand up quite well to cables that cost measurably more money. To top it off if one wanted to get an even better buy, they could purchase the raw Pulsar cabling and assemble it themselves. The drawback to DIY'ing the cables would be that one would not get the same 60 day return privilege that Chris offers on pre-assembled cables. Magnan IIIi's
are also nice sounding cables, but may be a bit lean sounding for some systems / tastes. These use very fine gauge conductors and the sense of speed and treble purity is very good. David Magnan attributes this to minimizing skin effect, which i personally think DOES come into play with most audio cabling. The sound is very delicate and articulate with a great sense of "air". There is no sense of "hi-fi hype" as with many other "detailed" cables as you still get a very natural presentation. Not as full bodied as the Pulsar's in most systems but a little more nimble sounding, probably due to the differences in tonal balance. These used to run under $200 per meter a while back, i don't know what they are selling for now.
Some other worthy cables that you can buy new and not break the bank are Music Metre Calibre and / or Canto's
. The Calibre runs $165 per meter pair and is an over-achiever at that price point, especially compared to most other "high end" cabling. The Canto's could be said to offer everything that the Calibre does, but in slighly more refined form. Then again, the Canto is basically the same basic design as the Calibre using higher purity metals with cryo treatments at 33% percent more i.e. $250 per meter pair. I am currently running their Silver Signature's in my main system from the active crossovers to the six different amps.
Between these four cables, you should be able to plumb a system with phenomenal results buying new and not break the bank. Pricing would range as little as appr $35 per meter for a pair of DIY Pulsar's ( including Dayton locking RCA's with Teflon insulation
) up to $250 per meter for the MM Canto's, so there's quite a wide range covered there. Try reading the various reviews listed on each website to get a feel for what each reviewer thought were the strengths of each cable.
As i've said before, i do think that interconnects act as impedance transformers between components, so sonic results may vary from system to system somewhat. You might also want to peruse through the listings here at Agon and at UsedCable.com
to see if these or anything else that strikes your fancy and can be found on the used market.
I hope that this helps you and some others out. I know that cabling is a big market with phenomenal profit margins. People throw away a lot of money on various cabling when they should be investing in better quality components that are of a more stable design. After all, once you minimize the electrical degradation that takes place in a cable, the only variable that can be dealt with is the feedpoint impedance that the cable presents to the load and the distributed electrical characteristics ( nominal impedance ) that the cable displays over its' length. That's why i selected the cables above, as they are all low loss conductors but slightly different in design and impedance. It's quite possible that any individual cable or combo of any of the above may work really well together, depending on one's system, components chosen and / or personal preferences. Sean
PS... As most of you know, i'm a very vocal proponent of Alpha-Core Goertz MI series flat speaker cables. The use of any of the above mentioned interconnects with Goertz flat speaker cabling and their associated impedance compensation ( Zobel ) networks would pretty much assure staggering amounts of musical accuracy. Just don't blame the cables if the quality of the recordings or the components can't keep up : )