"Great RCA interconnects under $100?"

Is it possible to get really good sound from a $100 or less interconnect? I have worked with some very good cables from Acoustic Zen and Harmonic Technology. I now want to experiment with the other end of the price spectrum. Would like to hear your opinions on these or any other cables that list for $100 or less NEW. No cheating by saying you can buy it used for under $100, OK?
Here is my short list of $100 or less interconnects: Signal Cable Analog Two, DH Labs BL I, Better Cables Silver Serpent, Audio Art IC-3, VooDoo Opus 1, Fro-Zen Stellar Labs, Harmonic Technology Harmony Link, Analysis Plus Oval One.
I have Cardas Golden Reference as my main set, with BL-1's as my backup. The BL-1's are excellent cables.
Music Boy/Petra - 6 ft., $8.95 - sound great, wire your whole system for $100...


You've got to try the anti-cables by Paul Speltz. Unbelievable. And cheap. You can get them through Audiogon too.
If anyone can get Great RCA interconnects for $100, why would someone ever pay more.

No, is the answer.
I use Monster IR Ref. II for all my interconnects except for the XLR. This is with Krell equipment. I have tried others at 5 times the $ and alwasy went back to the Monster.
They work perfect fo me @ $90 per 1-meter length.
Good luck, John
If anyone can get Great RCA interconnects for $100, why would someone ever pay more.

No, is the answer.

You can get filtered water from your tap (assuming you have a simple filtration system), yet some folks are happy to pay several dollars for a glass of branded, marketed designer water (with or without bubbles). You can buy a pair of Levis at Costco for around $24, or find a pair of jeans with some designers stamp of approval on them for several hundred. Why people are willing to pay more is a far more complex answer than you are suggesting it might be.

As far as your further response to the question asked; I'd disagree to any such blanket response. It is entirely subjective, not to mention system and synergy dependent. You may get a hundred different suggestions, but the best advice I can imagine is just to try them out yourself in the application(s) you are wanting to use them in. A difference someone else claims to be able to hear, may be one that leaves you scratching your head wondering if you need better Q-tips. Either buy used and resell, or try the Cable Company's lending program. The answer to your question is entirely up to you.

DH Labs is great stuff for the money, I've also had good luck with Goertz Micropurl. I'd buy used for sure but chances are you'll need to look elswhere, sub $100 items don't show up all that often here on the 'Gon due to the listing fee. Happy listening, Jeff
i second the ic-3, in my system they outperformed the signal analog 2 and silver resolution.
Excuse me, I have to do this... I can get an amp for $500, so why would anyone spend any more than that? Sorry, hahahaha.
Okay, now for disclosure. I make AweSound cables. I think mine are the best sounding of any of the Audiogon (not yet in a big store) cables. I sell a cable for $90 a meter, that is a gold plated silver. I know they can be whooped by $1000 a meter cable. But they are good, my Audiogon price for cables that beat the $1000 a meter retail is $149.
I say yes, you can! Okay, so other than my subjectivity, how about Audio Metallurgy, they can be had for under $100 new often, and under a meter very often under $80. (like a .75M).
The Monster retro Gold is about the only thing I've recommend from them.
Marco; water and jeans are a commodity. HiFi audio equipment is not; apples and oranges. Of course one can get ICs for < $100. Just like anyone can buy a watch for < $100. The question is, if taken verbatim: do GREAT cables exist for <$100. No.
Kimber PBJ - one of the most neutral cables I have ever used.
Pawlowski - I'd suggest you re-read my post, as I don't think you understood it. I was not trying to compare water or jeans to IC's. I was using those examples to illustrate that people will pay more money for a given item for reasons far more complex than whether or not the item is actually "Better" than a cheaper version of it. I was addressing your original question as to why people would pay more if what they were getting weren't "better" - They'd pay more for all kinds of reasons.

Taken verbatim or not, I disagree with your blanket statement. It is an entirely relative judgment call and will vary from individual to individual. A quick search of archived discussions on this subject will reveal there are those who claim to be able to hear a difference, as well as those who cannot. For those who cannot, I'd say that great cables exist for under $100. Taken further, to those with arguably "golden ears", just look at the speaker cable shootout in TAS where they threw in a Home-Depot extension cord in the mix with much more expensive cables and discovered that the sub $50 solution did many things better than far more expensive boutique cables. I stand by my original response; it's all subjective and you should use your own system, your own room, your own music, and your own two ears.

Marco, I guess we can agree to disagree. I don't think GREAT cables exist under $100. It presupposes that MOST of the people im this hobby are stupid, gullible to marketing or inherently insecure since MOST IC cost more than $100. We can conclude then that if they are spending more than $100 that they are wasting their money since they don't HAVE to spend more thant $100 to get great cables.

I just can't accept the conclusion of your argument.
Pawlowski, I agree to disagree, so we're in agreement!

To add my own .02 cents to the specific recommendations. For my ears, in my system, I've been impressed by Signal Cables which can be had new for under $100, and on the used market Mike Sanders, Quicksilver Audio IC's (which are silver) between pre and amp, and Harmonic Tech Truthlinks between source and pre. Both may be just a bit over the 100 mark, but not by much. OK, I 'cheated'...send me packing. YMMV (as always). I'd add that cables, IC's and PC's are so system-dependent that making blanket recommendations seems a bit silly. As I've indicated, I'd disagree with a general statement that implies one is "better" than another. I'd agree with the specific statement that they can definitively affect the way the system sounds and they certainly may sound "different" from each other. "Better" is entirely up to the individual doing the listening. Someone who cannot hear any difference between a $100 IC and a $500 IC in a specific link in their system (and there may indeed not be an audible difference) may rightly consider that $100 a "great" IC . Who are any of us to tell them otherwise. That'd also make the $500 IC a "great" IC too, since it sounded the same, but at a cost of $400 more - here's where the words gullible and stupid may come to that person's mind. Of course they are certainly not "stupid, gullible, or inherently insecure", they simply cannot hear a difference and or don't believe the difference they do hear is worth the added investement. There are all too many people willing to be lead like lemmings off a cliff by others telling them what they should like, how much it should cost, whose stamp of approval to look for, blah, blah, blah. The best advice I've taken to heart in enjoying this and any other pursuit is to trust in yourself.

Of all the links in a system I'd say that cables, IC's and PC's have the most rapidly diminishing returns on investment. The markup on these items can be astounding, and for the margin of improvement you get for your investment the amount of money might be better invested in other aspects of your system. The difference between a $100 speaker, and a $2000 speaker is very likely going to be pretty profound, given a good system behind them. The difference between a "great" $100 IC and a $2000 IC is not likely going to be nearly as profound, nor are as many people going to be able to tell and or appreciate the differences made (especially at the expense of $1900).

I'd imagine that folks looking for great $100 cables are more practical people and aren't likely to put their priorities in a link which yields a very low rate of return on investment.

Like anything else, it's worth whatever someone wants to pay for it. In turn, this is just one person's opinion - I'd encourage you to form your very own, and in spite of our disagreement, I do respect yours, Pawlowski. I certainly don't share it.

Ive used the analog ones in a few systems. Its never failed to musical. I great all rounder for the price. Contrary to some, ive not enjoyed the dh labs.

If youd like to spend a wee bit more, I also think greg straley reality cables are outstanding.

Never tried the goertz but they look very interesting. I also have the audio art ic-3s and like them quite a bit. But i have not done any head head with the other two cables. I dont think you can lose with any of these three, unless you can DIY...which is a holw new aree
I have found Signal Cables Silver Resolution very enjoying starts at $99 (2ft length) depending upon length you need

"Just like anyone can buy a watch for < $100"

What a perfect anology for the naysayers. You can pay over $100 for a watch, but because even the cheapest watch has a quartz mechanism, your $100+ watch will not be more accurate :)
my 1st hi-end cables (yrs.ago) were audioquest lapis. you might get them now fairly inexpensively. alternately try some inexpensive transparent cables (they DO make entry-level cables). plus, the company does alot of (imho) pretty valid research, which is evidenced by their VERY highly regarded reference cables.
i am biased by the quality of the connectors, which have to stay connected until you want to remove them. i.e., one fancy brand i once tried had a very stiff wire casing and didn't stay connected no matter how much i tried to flex them- and yes, they were long enough. the rca's weren't helping too much either- they weren't even "snug". so at the risk of sounding like a mid-fi geek, this kind of crap should not be ruining your day! there are some great wires on pro-audio web sites too, at very sane prices.
I just noticed the return to Audiogon advertising of the RCA interconnects from Auricle Audio Design - made by Joe Mazzaglia.
These are the among the lowest cost interconnects, yet able to deliver excellent results with better quality components. I hear a wealth of detail and subtleties in each recording, as well as enjoying extended frequency response, and properly rendered dynamic contrasts.
These interconnects reveal more about the quality in other components than any other easily affordable wire I have listened through.
While I enjoy the sound of a a top notch audio system, I believe that high end cable prices have little to do with vastly improving the sound of a system relative to their prices. If it floats your boat and you want a $2,000 power cord, go for it. I will probably have a hard time agreeing that it was money well spent soundwise.
One of the reasons people fall out of this hobby is that prices get much higher year after year just to be current with equipment. I've been in this hobby for over 40 years, and most non-audio people are shocked when I tell them how much I have invested in my main system. It is refreshing to me that someone might be able to design a pair of interconnects for under $100 that sound great. I and many others in this hobby don't need the pinnacle of every component available out there. Remember the heyday of Stereophile and TAS, when each tried to outdo the other for most expensive equipment reviewed? Well, I don't even read those publications anymore and haven't for years. I think many people followed me. Why do you think you could buy a subscription to Stereophile recently for $10?
For me, and I suspect many others, getting about 90% of the sound we're after is going to float our boats. I don't have to have the last word in resolution in order to justify a purchase or enjoy the music. With so many things competing for what discretionary income left, the hobby needs pioneers who use their creative side to design products that greatly exceed customer expectations at that price point. My hat is off to those that accomplish that. Here are some more cables under $100 to consider (I have not heard any of these yet)... Raymond Cable Silver Analog, Aural Harmony Silver Sonnet, RS Audio, White Zombie La Cacanya & Aural Thrills Air Silver.
I've found the aural thrills gold cable to be okay. The 4 outlet box is a nice piece. But find the Audio Metallurgy ICs to have more of what pleases me, in the several places I've tried them. I still think that what I sell is better, listening comparisons only. :)
But would have to say this regarding the mid-topic points made,
"great" not likely; "really rather good" highly likely."
I wear a $200 Seiko, won't buy designer jeans.
-------------------------------------------Best Regards.
As a newcomer to this forum, but not hifi, it's unfortunate that some here think hifi gear is immune from marketing hype and artificial price inflation.

It would be very naive to think that some products - be they cd players, amplification, cables etc - are not sometimes sold at over-inflated prices to try to maintain their status or perceived quality. I'm NOT suggesting all expensive hifi is sold like this, and much of it is worth every penny.
But let's use another analogy (instead of jeans); a $2000 Rolex watch is not 10 times better than a $200 Seiko in terms of build quality, time accuracy and so on. But could Rolex keep their status if they started selling for $500? No way! Much of their retail price is about status and market perception, and high end hifi is not immune… A 1 meter Chord Indigo IC costs about $2500 (in Australia), compared to a 1 meter Merlin Chopin for about $220. Will you hear a 10-fold improvement in sound? I doubt it; many may hear no improvement at all.

To answer the cable question, here's an audio truth: The best cable is NO cable at all. Any extra signal path can only detract from the signal, not improve it. This is why the truly best, most transparent cables cost so much, as they are able to get the signal from A to B with as little interaction as possible, and this requires lots of R&D and low-scale production or hand-made products.

Now a reality check: unless you have the same components & speakers as the original recording studio, then your system will never sound exactly the same. This is where HiFi systems become subjective, since the aim is to put a system together that sounds perfect to YOU and YOUR ears (and remember no two people's hearing is identical).

Of course you can buy excellent interconnects for under $100, just as you can buy excellent CD players and amplifiers for less than $1000. A well made interconnect using high grade conductors and connections (eg some Chord Company and Van Den Hul IC's) can cost well under $100 and do a brilliant job, and maybe even sound better to an individual's ears than a cable costing 10 times that. You may even find a local tech who buys high grade cable and RCA connectors, and puts them together professionally and therefore bypasses all the packaging, marketing & hype that can blow an IC’s price out of the real world; that’s what I did and haven’t looked back.

Anyone who says you can’t either has too much money or sells cables.

I feel better now. I’m going to have a cup of tea to prepare for the spray I’ll receive for this post... :)
Now a reality check: unless you have the same components & speakers as the original recording studio, then your system will never sound exactly the same. This is where HiFi systems become subjective, since the aim is to put a system together that sounds perfect to YOU and YOUR ears (and remember no two people's hearing is identical).

Here, here, Carl! I raise my morning coffee to toast your excellent post. I might add to your accurate statement above, that even if you had the same gear, connections, etc. it would sound different in a different room. Further still, even if you in the actual recording studio at the time of recording listening to the very gear the engineer was basing their own decisions upon, it may not be your...well, cup of tea! I'm taking off on your caffeinated beverage theme--I trust you don't mind. You may actually much prefer your very own home stereo that you've assembled through years of trial and error, and that stereo may sound very little like the the monitors in the recording studio. So much for "fidelity". Or as Jack said, "...Truth?!..You can't handle the truth!!!"

Being a great fan of fine time pieces, though not at all a fan of status symbols, I can say that I've never seen a Rolex I found in the least bit attractive, nor will you ever find one on my wrist. There are many very expensive watches I find stunningly beautiful, weird as that may seem to anyone who doesn't give a toss, and I do appreciate the aesthetics of that art, as well as the craftsmanship that goes into designing and building the works of those hand-built timepieces (although you never really see them unless you remove them from your wrist and pop the back off). Similar arguments can be made with the gear we're talking about (hand-made in small batches by passionate people who've put tremendous R&D time and dollars into producing something that arguably does the same thing as items far less expensive), though the direction here seems to be aimed more towards function than form, probably because no one actually looks at IC's much once they're installed. As far as the function aspect of the watch; well, although they may say the same time at any given moment, we all know the Rolex gives mo'betta time than the Seiko, eh?;-) And just like those fat cables in the back of your system, you'll get those knowing nods of approval from all the right people. And the women will smile and make eye-contact, right after they steal a glance at your crotch fantasizing about fat wire, the original Rolex Milgaus (the rarest and ugliest of all Rolex's offerings), and all that discriminatin' good taste that only the privileged few can afford. BTW, the Chinese-made digital watch on my cell phone that's hooked up to a wireless satellite network keeps pretty good time too. I bet it cost about $2 to integrate into the phone.

My coffee is drained, and it's time to go to work. You're absolutely right, it's all subjective. No right. No wrong. As XTC put it, "...it's always been the same, it's just a complicated game."

Marco, You are really sharp on tube stuff as well as IC's, cables, etc. Got a question.

I'm facinated by the flexibility of a system that has lots of tubes. I just changed to some different power tubes in my amp which really smoothed out the highs nicely, but bloated/muddied the bass a bit. So I put in some more neutral drivers. That really helped with the bass but now the sound was revealing some upper mid-range roll off, so I went into the CDP and changed the tubes to some more neutral tubes. Now its pretty smooth and balanced. Do you think I should try to improve the system by finding cables which may help me improve the system further. Assuming of course that I can? I fear if I find a more 'neutral cable' it will reveal some shortcoming in my 'matching' and I have to start all over. :-)

FWIW, your choice of watch selection analogy is really more on point than any other, I think. I belong to that group that wants an 'old fashion technology', outstanding performance, and a low cost. I settled for a mechanical chronometer/chronograph in a stainless steel case. A divers type watch and clunky. Loses less than 1 minute a month and cost me $850. Love it! The same mindset drives my audio hobby. I also like my VW Passat a great deal for the same reason. Do you think that these posts are about 'valadidation' more than anything else.

Tomorrow I'm going to start reading War and Peace again! :-)
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Do you think I should try to improve the system by finding cables which may help me improve the system further. Assuming of course that I can? I fear if I find a more 'neutral cable' it will reveal some shortcoming in my 'matching' and I have to start all over. :-)

Well thanks for the high praise, Newbee, but I think there are folks here far sharper than I with the tube gear. Boy, without getting very specific it sounds like you probably shouldn't play with something that's good already...or is it? Is there something still missing? I'm betting you're gonna' play some more, just by the fact that you asked the question. The old adage, "...if it ain't broke..." just doesn't apply to audiophiles. I'm all for experimenting if you have the time and patience, but then when do you stop and say it's good? Gee, that was a big help, wasn't it? One of the very basic things I've noted time and again about materials is that silver seems to me to be fast and revealing and seems to not be great in the bass region. Copper seems to be slower, but does bass betta'. Probably old news to you and anyone with much experience here. A broad generalization at best. FWIW, in my own last fiddling about with wires in my tube system, I kept ending up with silver wires between pre and amp, and copper between source and pre. I kept trying different permutations and always ended up back there.

As for watches, I still wind mine too...I like the ritual. Chrono too; vintage military, yet quite elegant in its simplicity. Oh, and my wife drives an older Passat - great car. Toilet paper? I like Charmin cause of that Mr. Whipple dude. I think he wore a Timex.

Never thought I'd start a "what watch do you wear" thread, but there you go!
Just for closure, I wear a $150 Casio (big bells & whistles model) that only gains 4 second per month; not bad huh?
Time to go listen to some music I think...
$100.00 is not really enough to even build your own SOTA cable. Four quality RCA connectors start at $50.00 and up.
I'd vote for Silent audio Apollo cables silver or copper (A or C), if you can find them. I have not seen them advertised on audiogon for a while. Looked inexpensive were inexpensive but sounded better than most interconnects at many times their price.
However there is a problem with the recording studio analogy.
So you have a band, mics, cables, monitors, more cables and a mixer to a recording device. Yes you have a guy tweeking he tones in most cases. The EQ going to the recorder may not be the same sound as the players in the room, right? But in cases of electronics, there doesn't have to be sound in the room, maybe they are all under headphones. Starting to see what doesn't matter? The amp used may not bring out the true sound of that instrument. :)
It doesn't matter what the sound in the room, it doesn't matter the sound in the mixer, monitors amps, or hearing specs of any golden eared teck or deafened guitarist or anyone in betwee.
We do not have the luxury often to compare the event of that performance to the recording that comes out the other end. But, our event statrts from the recording, vinyl, disc, tape, or (sticking with hard media) the recorded product.
So no matter what lens the photographer used to shoot that tree, clear or fuzzy, that has nothing to do with us after.
Look at Santana Abraxas, or Rolling Stones Let it Bleed. Those mics are hishy. there are loads of well meaning recordings that due ot label, time, budget, or whatever are awful.
No matter. We are given the media we have. So from there, yes it is subjective to ear, equipment, room (maybe?). But what the engineer used though interesting is not our concern. Unless we want to engage in more of our "chasing" which all of us do as in the Conditions of the tubes discussion above. I've done it, and will again. But including that, in the equation will require more coffee as the energyy to compensate what was used prior to product to get to the "truth" is a near impossible task. "toss a dart" to pick one is a good place to start, maybe. But it depends what you want. If you like more mids go copper. If you like more detail go silver. If you like mids with a sharper forward edge go silver over plain copper. . If you like detail and warmth the gold over silver. There are grades of copper, and silver that make a difference. Yes, I've put in the R&D to make plain cables under $100 that sound to most like much more expensive cables. Please forgive typos.
I use the Dayton interconnects that are about $12 at Parts Express, as short as will fit. They sound great to me.
>> 04-23-07: Tvad
>> I chose a battery Omega Seamaster after my Seamaster
>> chronometer was stolen. The battery version keeps
>> outstanding time, unlike its chronometer brother,
>> although the battery version isn't as secretly sexy.
I'm sorry to read about your episode of your SeMPC. I'm looking @ mine on my wrist & yes it does look very "secretly sexy"!! :) that James Bond 007 fellow had/has good taste, no? (I know, I know!)
I know what you mean by not keeping great time. But, hell, that secret sexy look is worth it! :-)
We'll have to start a separate "Audiophiles with Omega Seamasters" thread.....I'm guilty as well!

Now back to the regularily scheduled programming....
Promotion plays a large part in most audio related purchases...probably no where more prevalent than in the spin magic associated with interconnects and power cords.

If it costs more, it's better, and if it costs a LOT more it's a LOT better.

Obviously there are differences between the materials quality and construction techniques of cords and cables...and clever marketing focuses that message.

The real issue is whether these differences effect the basic performance of copper, aluminum, or silver wires, and whether price has any correlation to audible sonic gains.

In the end it's your ears, or your ego, that will be the deciding factor...one will save you a lot of time and money, the other most likely will not.
Blue Jeans Cable, Acoustic research.
I say give My Audio Cables (MAC) a shot. I've owned/own the sub $100 cable offerings from them (Velvet, Ultra Silver +, Vibe) and am very happy with them.
yes, absolutely. JW Cryo interconnects are excellent.