But then where would the fun be if you don't drop a few thousand on cables? Seriously, if you have good electronic construction skills you should have no problem making decent, inexpensive cables.
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Well, it's not really that simple. I agree with Drrasta that the best place to start looking is the asylum. Simply taking silver wire and wrapping it with rubber will not yield good results. There are many, many great DIY ideas for cables out there, ranging from very inexpensive to reasonably priced. There is a very complex science involving cable construction (the equations are fairly high level), and the construction itself can be tricky/tedious. Look at Chris Van Haus stuff, and also at www.diycable.com. Jon Risch at the asylum will be able to help you out tremedously, but don't think that the high prices of some cables aren't completely justified. Don't expect to be able to make cables that will compete with Synergistic/Transparent/Siltech/Nordost, but you will get VERY reasonably results. All the cables in my system are per Risch's recipies, and I couldn't be happier. Cheers!
i have done a lot of this. try www.vacuumstate.com. they have a whole book on diy cables. i have made several of the cables and they are quite good....and very cheap. i have had 4$ speaker cables kill 1500$ ones. so can you build nordost vallahua??? no. can you get a much better than average (500-1000$) speaker and interconnect doing it yourself....oh yeah! as to your wire question. i have used .9999 silver 30gauge wire; 40 gauge magnet wire (copper). i like the thinner wires. silver is to taste i think. i like foils for most of my stuff. copper foils are good too. have not bucked up for silver foils yet....when my listening room is completed...i will really get into this (feb 2002). anyway...from my rambling...i think you can diy and save; without sonic short falls. oh as info my system consists of joule elec la100m3; rogue 120s monos (nos tubed); mac 67 tuner; birdland dac; vpihw19 tt with fidelity research arm fr64fx; shelter 501 cart;arc ph3 phono stage and merlin vsm-ms; yes and all homemade cables. as you can see i have spent some money on equipment. i just think that cables are way out of line in their price. if you like tweaks you should read redkiwi's posts on equipment stands to. really some intresting stuff. IMO
good luck jim
I just made a few sets of interconnects which cost me $30USD each. I ordered cable from maplin (UK electronics supplier). The cable is coded RG214 at www.maplin.co.uk.
You can probably find the same in the US. It's MIL c-17 spec silver plated copper coax. It sounds very good to me, and much better than any commercial interconnect I've heard costing $100 or less (I mostly heard audioquest cables). This particular cable was a bit tricky to solder and strip because the braid was so thick, but the effort was worth it : I needed 3 sets of interconnects, and I saved $100s. For reference the interconnect is running between a Monarchy Audio 22a DAC and a Densen B-100 integrated, both of which cost around $1000USD new ... so it's not a megabuck system, but it's reasonably good quality. In my opinion changing from my previous OFC interconnects (also home-brew) to this silver cable gave me more improvement to clarity than the Monarchy DAC versus the outputs of my Marantz CD67 ! (And this was originally a $1000 DAC !)
I haven't got any experience with making speaker cables, but I'm intrigued by the supplies of teflon coated silver/copper military wire at www.worldwidewire.com
My advice is to have a go at making it ... it's not difficult, it can be fun, it doesn't cost much, and it saves you the worry of handing over loads of cash to some snake-oil salesman.
One of the posts above said it's not so simple ... it may not be simple to be optimal, but it's pretty easy to make a very good cable. (I also make wine ... and the same is true !)
I've had a few ATT/ST cables made up for me by my electronics vendor. They cost about $30.00 a pair. They sound better than the Illuninations D-60 and Orchid. I've sent a few out and folks love them. I still think that if your gear has ST ports, use them. I just can't believe what is charged for a glass cable. These are not DIY though. I've taken classes on this. You don't know how old and shakey you are till you are working with something thinner than a human hair. But my vender does them all the time. Multi-mode glass fiber, ST connectors with hot fusion and polished. He's blown away everytime I come in and order a few and tell him what they are for.
My .02. There are many snake oil cables out there, just cut a few open to see. However there are many good brands where the engineering and materials are sound. The problem is trying to copy these. It is costly to buy pure silver wire (like 6n+), special dielectrics, etc. Then you have to design it properly. Also consider your time doing this. It may be better for you to just buy a good set of cables and enjoy. If you like to tinker and have a good engineering background then give it a shot.