The better the cord the better the results!
Try DH Labs - they are very good and reasonable prices and you can even build them yourself to save some money
A very good RCA at a reasonable price is the Furutech FP-126 - about $12 eachhttp://www.furutech.com/a2008/product2.asp?prodNo=86
If you want a more rugged cable I have had great success with the Van Den Hul D102 III - tripple screened with balanced conductors - yes you can use it with RCA jacks
If you go the balanced conductor route you should connect them with a "floating Screen"
- the two internal wires are connected, one to the centre pin and the other to the outer shell of the RCA connector
- the screen is only connected to the outer shell of the RCA at one end of the lead
- The end of the lead that the screen is attached to always plugs into the source component - in this case your pre-amp
Theory is the screen will drain any RF away from the signal destination
If you need more info email me I can send diagrams
Oh I forgot to add - both companies provide cables ready-built as well
You will learn over time that ALL cables are just as important as every other piece of gear in your system. Even power cables!
for Power see http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?fcabl&1071276890&openusid&zzWilliewonka&4&&
Do some reading and buy somewhat older models, used and you can get some very good cables at very reasonable prices. And yes you can use component video cables if you insist.
Is there a notable difference between Audioquest Diamondbacks at $90-150 compared to blue jeans or monoprice cable at $5-$30?
impossible to answer, in any given system one could be better than the other
try for yourself and return or sell the one you do not like
The best way to find your way through all the information is to set some realistic goals.
The first IMO (and yes this is just MY opinion)
Spend only a small percentage of the cost of your equipment on cables.
10% to 15% total compared to your gear.
Plenty of reasonable cables from Kimber PBJ, BlueJeans, Mogami.
The reason is if you are on a limited budget, spending your big money on the electronics or speakers will garner much more of an improvement.
So the advice is spend a little on cables, and save your big bucks for equipmnet upgrades.
Here is a quote from your post:
"Just want to keep the budget low on the setup and spend it on other items that are more important!"
That's better advice than you will get 99% of the time when asking opinions from people who know "more" than you do. Yes, cables make a difference that you can hear. As your components get better and their resolution increases you will notice the difference much more. With the level of equipment you now have, your idea of upgrading real, active components is a much better choice. I haven't heard the blue jeans cable but they do look very good for the money. They should be fine for now. If you must, the AQ is also a very good choice. They sound good and work with a wide range of equipment; Very trouble free product. If it was me, I would get the blue jean cable and put the money into something that will make a much bigger difference.
I run blue jean cables and I'm very happy. But I did do a shoot out between different grades of audioquest cables early in my amateur audiophile career. I compared audioquest G snakes to diamondbacks, also had some cheapo stock cables as a placebo.
The difference was greatest between the G snakes and the cheapos. This definitely means cables make a difference.
The difference between the G snakes and the diamondbacks was subtle, but it was there. More detail at the frequency extremes. It had to be the right recording, and I had to listen for it, but the difference was there.
Now consider that those tests were done using 15 year old Yamaha gear running new B&W 685s, I think the differences would be much more noticeable on my current system.
Elizabeth has it right, get the other gear first, then worry about cables. I'm upgrading speakers, probably getting a DAC, and building a rack before I fuss with cables. When I do buy new ones, they'll be AQ king cobras.
Johnmadden - To quote from the above - "Don't worry about the cables until later"
Well,,,err... I am one of those guys from "the dark side" and here's why...
(and apologies about the length of this)
I have a pretty nice amp - a NAIM 5i and a nice pair of speakers - Gershman Acoustics Sonograms.
I think my wires are pretty good...
- Van Den Hul D102 III Hybrid Interconnects
- Furutech 10awg power cable on the NAIM
- DH Labs Power Plus 12 awg on the power conditioner that powers the source components
- Van Den Hul D352 Hybrid speaker cables
However - my source components are not what I'd call "high-end"...
- a Cambridge Audio 640p phono stage,
- a Dacmagic DA convertor,
- an apple TV (for streaming music from my computer via the Dacmagic)
Their performance out of the box was pretty good (or so I thought)
Then I started playing with the replacement of their Wal-Wart power supply with its crappy little "phone charger" cable.
I tried a basic 12v lighting transformer with some old 14 awg speaker wire as the power connector cables and it improved the sound tremendously!
But I then decided to go for the gusto and used a good quality toroid transformer and upgraded the power cables to a higher quality copper - the results are astounding!
So now my Phono and DAC are performing so far beyond their original abilities and are on par with some very pricey gear.
I also know that I would not have heard such an improvement if it wasn't for the interconnects, the speaker cables and the power cables on the other components in the system!
Going back to the power cables and power supply that originally came with the various components demonstrates the improvement quite nicely, even to "normal friends" i.e. not into hi-fi.
All of the cables in a system work in harmony to provide the very best sound possible and one weak link will degrade that sound
FWIW: I have just finished testing the DH Labs Power Plus mains cable (DIY) and acoustically, I found it to perform just as well as the Furutech 10 gauge power cable. It's now on my power conditioner!
Their copper is of the highest quality, their construction is high-end and their pricing is very reasonable especially when compared to the competition.
I have also just ordered some of their BL-1 interconnect wire, just to see how good it is when compared to my D102 III's
I had the Audio Quest Gsnake, but IMHO for the same money I believe you can do much much better - especially if you are into DIY!
Also, the suggestion of another appender to look for "previously enjoyed" cables on AG is a great idea - you can save $$$BIG.
So to cut to the chase :-) - If I can get this sort of improvement with my modest Cambridge Audio gear, imagine how good you pre/amp will perform with the right cables!
I believe the performance of equipment in any "Snack Bracket" can be maximized way beyond the owners expectation, if they invest in good quality cables - i.e. interconnects, speaker and power cables.
I hear a lot of guys talk about their upgrade paths from this piece of gear to the next - it seems never ending. But recently I heard one older gentlemen exclaim that after all of his many upgrades over the years, he realized that all he really needed was "good cables"!
This is just one guy's - differing opinion :-)
Ultimately, you will decide which path is best for you and your approach/budget.
Whatever path you take - enjoy the ride.
I think the OP knows the answer to his question. if differences in wire existed, there would be no need to ask the question. if MSRP meant anything, you would already know the answer. So here is the truth and the real answer, They are all the same! Get the blue Jeans, they look good, well made, nice blue color and can be had in any length. But I do agree, the more expensive wire costs more, and that's important to many people.
So - if all cables are the same - they would perform "the same" - the fact is - they don't!
If you look at those companies that "care enough about their customers" to actually publish their spec's (good companies do) you will see vast differences in Capacitance, Inductance, resistance and cable architectures.
This alone will dictate how they will perform with different audio components.
Some hi-fi components have a real dislike for high capacitance cables e.g.
- a lot of phono cartridges perform terribly with hi-cap leads
- a NAIM amp is just one example that "performs best" with low capacitance speaker cables!
- Cambridge Audio 640p and Dacmagic actually runs several degrees cooler with a good power supply and cable - and their performance - WOW!
Some cables use silver, some silver-coated-copper and some just plain copper
- silver is a better conductor of electricity, so it stands too reason it will have better resolution performance
Some are screened, some are braided, some employ what's referred to as "DNA Helix" to deal with RF.
- Personally, I prefer double braided wire screens - but that may be changing.
Companies that don't publish their spec's are selling an unknown commodity, which I choose not to purchase.
- the argument about stealing designs is a moot point - companies patent designs before marketing them
- That and - 24 hours after they hit the streets - a clone has been made anyway!
- so please - lay your design on the table for the world to see!
So, if you are of the opinion that all cables are the same then - buy Blue Jeans cable...
- because they will no doubt perform "THE SAME AS" the top of the line Nordost! :-)))
- they're modestly priced !
- and you will be be able to sleep at night knowing that the rest of us are.......... :-)
However, you can always elect to investigate all the alternative cable architectures and select cables that will perform to their optimum in your very own audio system.
Granted, it's possible you may have paid over the odds, but then again, you may just have selected "the perfect match" and your system will "come alive". In which case - did you pay too much? :-)
Many audio stores will have "loaners" that you can take home and assess in your own system - that is a very good informed way of assessing which works the best in YOUR audio system!
Nordost are so confident, that they have a case containing a selection of their cables that you can audition at home - one dealer near me said I could have it on loan for a week!
Call me crazy, but I, like many others on AG have spent a lot of time investigating several types of cables and have found that they make a profound difference in the net result. I'm not just talking marginal improvements (or degradation), I am talking about OMG moments, where the result is amazing (or just plain terrible)
I base my choices on knowing something about the equipment I have and what works best for it!
- I do not believe the "word" of the manufacturer
- I do not rely on audio reviews in their totality
- I evaluate the spec and the design
- ask for feedback about a specific company or cable on AG forums
I do have my favourites and at times I try a different manufacturers product.
- with advancing technology I anticipate my favourites could change
Most importantly - I endeavour to "try before I buy" - if it doesn't provide a substantial ROI - I move on!!!
We all want the "quick answer" to that age old question - "which one is best?"
Alas, it is NOT that simple and it never has been. You have to put some effort in - sorry :-(
To answer your original question, if you're choosing between the Diamondbacks and Blue Jeans Cables, go with BJC. The BJC's are good quality/durable cables and you're only really paying for marketing with AQ. I do believe that different cable designs can make a difference, but generally prefer to make them myself. If you really feel like spending more than the ~$25 for the Blue Jeans, I'd support a product like Signal Cable, Morrow Audio, or MAC. If you want to discuss the homemade path (or just try out something I've made), just send me an email.