I figure mine are going to go bad at/or about 7:13am on May 17, 2097. Though I don't think I'll be around then, and if I am I'll probably be incapable of discerning there breakdown as it happens right before me.
19 responses Add your response
Believe it or not, I had my previous set of cables for over seven years. They were the Magnan Type Vi balanced, MIT Digital Reference, AudioQuest Sterling bi-wire speaker and Synergistic Research power cords for my Theta, Krell and Dunlavy set-up. I chose them after a massive search and auditioning period and was quite content because I could finally distinguish an instrument in a David & David song as being a guitar with the 50% silver speaker wire.
A year and a half ago I began another upgrade period and bought a Stereovox HDXV digital cable, along with a Conrad-Johnson D/A-3 DAC. That DAC being single-ended, I began another massive cable search and auditioning period that lasted three months.
I ended up, quite unexpectedly, with a complete recabling with Sonoran Plateau cables from Star Sound Technologies (www.audiopoints.com). They were only $500.00 a set for interconnects, digital, speaker and power cords, a lot cheaper than anything else I tried. The kicker came when I discovered as soon as I auditioned the Sonoran cables that my 'guitar' in the David & David song was clearly a synthesizer.
I have a feeling that I'll be dying with these still hooked up. The reason I say this is that even though they are copper and not silver, they are faster and clearer than anything else I tried, and I'm talking up to $2,000.00 a set cables. I'm hearing distinguishable instruments and tonal colors that I never heard before.
I think the secret is in the steel micro-bearing shielding, because you can lay the cables on top of each other and it doesn't affect them. They also seem to act consistently with any equipment, at least everything I've gotten through this upgrade. I went from Krell to Musical Fidelity to Herron, Theta to Musical Fidelity and Dunlavy to B&W Silver Signatures and everything is still fantastic with these cables. I even prefer and use the Sonoran copper speaker wires over the Kimber silver speaker cable that come with the Silver Signatures.
It's actually a good feeling to be so content and comfortable with the cables that I can think about upgrading equipment and adding a turntable and phono pre-amp, and not even consider the issue of cables.
I would guess life expectancy of a well built cable to be around 100 years, give or take. Rough handling could decrease this time drastically.
I don't believe there has been any tremendous improvement in cable design in the last 5 years. The only 'improvement' that I find much more prevelant in today's top cables is cryogenic processing.
The designs are fairly similar. You could send your 5 year old state of the art cables out to be cryo'd, and I'm sure they'd be right at home with today's best cables.
Okay, now for a serious answer:
I'm a veteran audiophile and I still have some old Monster Interlink Reference (black) as well as a smattering of most other cables I've used over the last 20 years.
Properly terminated cables don't go bad under normal conditions. I just used a pair of those 20+ year old Monster Cables on a tuner in my reference system and they sound great. I doubt that they sounded much better, ever.
The main thing I have noticed over the years is that the resolution of audio cables has continually evolved. However, today, you can get top performance -- detail, dynamics, linearity, soundstaging, etc. for a small fraction of the price of the top-performing cables from 5 or 10 years ago.
Yes, the top prices of cables continues to climb, but so does the bang-for-the-buck in the moderate and lower price ranges.
Has it peaked? Well, probably not. No-one's using superconductors in the audio industry as far as I'm aware. Will future cables using superconductor technology sound better in your system? Very Likely. Will they cost a fortune when first introduced? Even more likely. Will it ever end? Not very likely...
If cables are poorly terminated, make use of low grade dielectrics, materials that inter-act with each other or are exposed to high levels of direct sunlight / thermal extremes, both physical and electrical degradation can take place. Under normal conditions, they should last a very long time.
Having said that, most all cables benefit from having their contacts and mating surfaces cleaned periodically. This can lower corrosion and signal degradation along with reducing for the connections to get stuck together. Sean
The life expectancy of your cabling may be dramatically, and abruptly shortened, if that new wireless system that was advertised on A/gon a few weeks ago takes hold.
I believe that it is a digital transmitter/receiver set up, operating in the 2.4 gig range.
This is the second time I've seen it, I think it's mfged by some tech company on the Pacific Rim. They are supposed to be displaying at the CES
I'll bet it won't be the guys who adapt to it first ( because of the sound quality), but the ladies because of its WAF appeal
I can see it now.... you come home from a hard day at the office, and your significant other greets you with...."Hi honey I threw out your (10k Transparent Ref's) cables and replaced them with these neat little black boxes
URGE TO KILL....bear in mind that ANGER is one letter away from DANGER
About 20 years ago, I saw a cable that had to be charged with freon. It was about 2-2.5" in diameter and had what looked like a grease fitting where you injected the freon. The idea was to keep the cable as cold as possible for the best sound. The rep said that they would need to be recharged, or topped off, about once or twice a year. I think the retail on them was around $2500 back them. I never got a chance to hear them. They weighed a lot; it took two of us to carry them into the store. I guess $2500 is not that bad today, but back then you could buy a car for under $5000.
As far as cable life goes, I have a pair of Esoteric's that I purchased about 20 years ago, for about $200-300 that still sound incredibly good. Every once in a while I do the recable thing, but I just keep putting that cable back in the system. I do agree that you should clean the contacts about once a year. Don't forget to clean the connectors on the equipment also.
In my oppinion (and others) cables will degrade over time. There will be oxidation over time, as no insulation is truely air tight (at least in the long run).
Also the more you move around with your cable, the more it will tend to "crack" between the crystals.
So what is average lifespan? According to VDH you should expect around 10 years.
Aarsoe....that's something to think about. Spend 5-10k on cable only to have an approximately 10 year expiration date.
For sure, amps and other items in the system would have a much longer life expectancy.
So, super expensive cables actually cost a lot more than their sticker price because in ten years or so they will need to be replaced because they will have degraded.
Be honest - how many components do you still have in your setup that are more than 10 years old?
Anyway - assume 10 years for average cables, better ones could be double. In 10 years time or at least in 20, much better technology will exist, more vodoo or even new types of cables (HDMI and all the others that will follow).
If you have a "scrap" box, like I do, with old cables then try to take one that you used to use (but dont any longer) and try to listen. Did that with some old ones, and the sound was horrible..
For me the whole world of audio is totally dependent on how much money I have available. I'm always going to upgrade to as much as I can reasonably afford. So, If I have a component that's only six months old and I fell into some cash, I'm upgrading as much as I can immediately.
I'm no scientist by a long shot, but for no reasons based on any facts, it seemed to me that cables should last for at least 20-40 years and still be effective. They look so simple!
I haven't owned the equipment in my system for 10 years, but the majority of my equipment was manufactured 10 years ago or longer. I can't afford to buy any of this stuff new.