"Budget" cable advice, please


I'm piecing together the first refresh of my audio system in over 20 years! :-)

I've purchased a pair of Totem Arros and a Music Hall CD 25.2 CD player. I'll also be running a refurbished SOTA Sapphire and a PS Audio Elite Plus integrated amp. The only speaker cables I have right now are Monster Cable Powerline 2's that I used to bi-wire my old Vandersteen 2C's in the late 1980's.

I need best-bang-for-the-buck interconnect, power cord (for the CD) and speaker cable recommendations. I can't break the bank on cables, but want to get a marked improvement in the system.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!
I can't break the bank on cables, but want to get a marked improvement in the system.

Monster cables are generally a high priced and higher build quality cable brand already. If you are looking for value then I'd stick with them - especially as you already paid for them. I don't think it would be wise to spend more.
Difficult to give absolute recommendations since there is always a lot of 2nd hand, demo and factory sell-out stuff on offer. Then again often not just quite what you were looking for, which is where sellers become interesting that grant you a trial period. In the budget segment at regular retail price, I have found Kimber (e.g. TC 4 All Clear speaker + Timbre IC) but also Siltech professional series (MXT London speaker + IC) to be rewarding. How much are you willing to spend and what lengths of cable would you need?
My experience with Monster cables is limited to the Interlink 400 II, which was fine for the $35 I paid.

I have a couple of Auricle Audio interconnects. These are auctioned here and can be picked up quite reasonably.

I also have a couple of Acoustic Zen El Nino power cords. I have heard other AZ varieties in different setups, and I would suggest this brand as a good place to start. Another make I like is Atlas; I'm very pleased with my Atlas Opus digital interconnect. Finally, I have a pair of Audioquest Type 4+ speaker cables in my second system and I think these are very good for the money I paid.
You should specify a budget. To some, a budget interconnect is $50, to others it's $500.

If you can swing $275 for speaker cables, I believe Gregg Straley's Reality Cable is tough to beat.

If that price is too high, then I'd keep what you have.

KAB (kabusa.com) sells interconnects made by Mogami that sell for under $50/pair. They have other models that sell for under $100/pair. These are outstanding interconnects from a proven manufacturer.

If it fits your budget, you may want to go with a full compliment of cables from Morrow Audio. Mike Morrow personally builds each cable and they are of good quality and design. He also offers a 60 day in-home trial, so you can try them for 2 months and return them if they don't meet your approval. Check out the Morrow Audio classified ads here on AudiogoN for information and links to the Morrow Audio site.


I second the recommendation of Morrow cables. Good stuff.
There are many threads on the topic of 'budget cables'. Do a search and you'll find lots of opinions and a few cables that are mentioned repeatedly.
There is a lot in the achieves. But any discussion should mention the reality cables, signal cable, auricle and the speltz.
You can pick up a pair of Alpha Core Micro Purl Cu interconnects for around $50.00 used and make your own power cords based on the Asylum cord recipe.
Miht want to checkout SignalCable (advertise here on the Gon- I'm not affliated) for speaker cable and ICs - Audio Art Cable also advertise here - I'll make thes ame disclaimer - for good affordable & to my ears PC that you can hear a difference with.
Second the Signal Cable. Very difficult to match, nearly impossible to beat for the money. Usually need to spend 2-3 times more to beat them outright. I'm very familiar with the PS Elite. The preamp section is still quite viable, however, and it is a BIG however, the power section is really thin and non-musical. Might I suggest using the preamp section and running say a Hafler 120 or even an Adcom 555. Not much money and they will bury the Elite. Good luck
I agree with Facten .. I have 3 mters pair IC3 Art Audio Cable from CD to preamp and it sounds fantastic for the cheapo price it costs..

My cent!
Blue Jean cable sells Belden cable at any length you specify as well as interconnects. You can also buy Belden from a electrical supply house like Allied Electronics but you will likely have to buy it in either 500 or 1000 ft rolls. However, the only reason that I would even bother to replace the cable you already have is if you need larger AWG. If you already have #12 or #14 wire, then there is really no need to do anything. Ditto for a power cord. Buying new cable and power cord is not going to get you marked improvement - it will not get you an improvement.
First of all, I want to thank everybody who has been so helpful in responding to this thread already. You guys are fantastic!

Yes, I have certainly considered hanging onto the Monster Cables for my speakers. I'm concerned, however, that the stuff is well over 20 years old, and I wonder whether or not it has deteriorated during that time. In any case, I would still have to have it resized and terminated again, since the lengths I have now are far, far too long for my new listening room. After that kind of trouble, I'm wondering whether it is just worth buying new cable.

I would consider "budget" to be around $100 or less for interconnect cables to hook my CD player up to the amplifier, and, between $200 and $250, maximum, for speaker cables. Maybe all of that's unrealistic, I'm not sure... ;-)

A lot of people seem to like the Morrow cables... the prices are quite reasonable, and he does offer you 60 days to make your evaluation and then return them if you're not happy, so that's one possibility.

Curio and others,
The Signal Cable interconnects and speaker cables also seem to be very popular here. I will give that a serious look, especially since they seem to be running some "bargain" auctions here right now.

Celtic 66,
Thank you very much for the opinions about the PS Audio Elite Plus (my understanding is that the Elite, which came out first, was a 50 W per channel amplifier, while the Elite Plus has 70 W per channel).
In a huge thread on speakers that I started a few weeks ago, the general consensus seemed to be that I get my Totem Arrows fully broken in before making any decisions about amplification. Totem recommends over 100 hours of break in time! At that rate, and given my schedule, I may be fully into my retirement before I upgrade my amplifier! :-)
I'm really quite torn about the issue of upgrading my amplifier. I have heard that the preamp section of my amplifier is really not bad, and, considering that it includes a moving magnet/moving coil phono preamp stage, and that I will almost certainly have to pay extra for a phono preamp with any other integrated amplifier on the market these days, it does bump up the cost of replacing my amplifier considerably.
I've heard a bunch of different recommendations for replacement amplifiers. Everything from JoLida tube or hybrid stuff to Unison Unico. I'm pretty confused...
I can recommend the Unico. It was truly excellent in my system driving some Proac 1.5's. Made my Classe gear sound broken (maybe it was).
Signal Cable is working well in our phono rig. Great value.
I just received a shipment of coax, optical and HDMI cables from Blue Jeans Cable. Nice service - they didn't try selling me something I didn't need (they suggested the less expensive HDMI cables).
Almost anything will sound better than 20 year old Monster Cable. For what you are investing, Kimber Heroes(pre-owned) and 8TC would make you VERY happy. That's providing you are interested in transparency, and not a fuzzy/euphonic presentation.
A consideration you might think about is keeping a good eye out on the 'gon for a good used pair of synergistic research tesla accelerators... you should be able to get them for under the price point you mention. SR afficionados are always moving up in the cable line. I think you'll like them. I know they made a huge difference in my SS system... happy listening
Try RS Cables silver interconnects and Clear Day Cables silver speaker wire.
Great bang for the buck.
Can't recommend a power cord as I'm off the grid.
For your $100 budget for interconnect and $200-$250 budget for speaker cables, I would second the Kimber 4TC or 8TC for speaker cables. Interconnects....too many to choose from. Any cheap decent brand from a reputable manufacturer would do. Use stock power cords.

A suggestion above on the Synergistic Research Tesla Accelerators may have burst the poster's budget.
Hey Rebbi,
You might want to google the White Lightning diy speaker cables. I have two ten foot lengths that are unterminated that I will mail to you for free if you are interested. You can get some spades or bananas that just screw on for pretty cheap and be in business for very little.
I ended up buying the Audioquest GBC speaker cables (on sale at hcmaudio.com) and Audioquest Coral interconnects (also on sale) from them, too. They just arrived and I'll let you all know how they're working out as they break in.

Min.12-13 awg solid core speakercables, biwire if possible. 9-10 or thicker gives real bass-power!
The copper sounds dull the first hour(s), but opens vup and dissapears.

Powercables in min.12-13agw solid also outperforms anything else.
Try RS Cables Silver ICs and Clear Day Audio speaker cables.
$220 for the both and I'm quite happy with the results.
AQ King Cobras are very good. I've owned AQ Coral CQs (very spatial but a bit bright) and AQ Diamondbacks (solid all-round cable) but for around $100 you can buy used King Cobras. They transport a bigger soundstage and a lot of well-defined bass. Easy on the ears, too.
You should read this by Roger Russell (Director of Acoustic Research at McIntosh Laboratory, Inc. and the originator of McIntosh Loudspeakers)


You'll find out what others had already know but can't accept.
I love this topic. An OUTSTANDING value in audio cables is DNM. I replaced about $9,000 worth of cable in my system (Kimber Select, Nordost, Purist), with $700 worth of DNM cable and didn't look back. As amazing as that is, it's still not the biggest "bang for you buck" that I can recommend. Yes, there is one that's better. It's a tad more expensive, but BLOWS AWAY the DNM cables. THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE UPGRADE I'VE MADE TO MY SYSTEM. Check it out on "Virtual System".
Devilboy, nice system, very simple, looks great, and I like the room treatments.

However, I didn't quite figure out the reference from your post as to the single most effective upgrade you made to your system. Was it the reference in one of the posts to the Jorma cables?