Recommend a Cable/Interconnect Set


I know this issue stirs controversy and can spark "vigorous dissent" (understatement), but I was looking for some recommendations on both speaker cables and interconnects for my system.

Can you guys suggest a modestly priced but high performance set of cables? I know 'modestly' covers a lot of ground, so what would be extremely helpful is some sort of "buyer's guide" to offer insight on what characteristics to look for, how to decide what you need, and how to set a budget so that I, and others reading on or those new to this pastime, can make a more informed decision.

Though I subscribe to the basic premise that the more you spend, the better it gets, I also know there is also a point of diminishing returns on the price:performance curve.

My equipment is:
HiFiBerry DAC
Krell KRC-3
Bryston 4BST
Dahlquist DQ10* (see below)
Polk PSW650

Right now, I have Monster XPHP going to the speakers, and an old set of Monster interconnects from the DAC to the Krell. Lengths for interconnects can be as short as 1.5 or 2 feet, since all my electronics are together, out in the open, and accessible from behind.

So, I figure I'll need:
1x Balanced (Krell to Bryston)
2x RCA (one for the DAC to Krell, the other Krell to PSW)
1 set speaker cables ~8-10 ft

Hit me. I'm all ears. Those of you who have indluged me in other similar questions of this type (i.e. power amp, preamp) know I take your input seriously and act on it, so this isn't just an exercise.

Thanks in advance for all your help!


(* - At some point in the future, I hope to buy a set of CLSII's, so kindly factor that into the recommendation since it doesn't make sense to buy a set of cables and find they're not up to the task down the road)
parabolic
Get all Purist cable .
Are you thinking of pure or mostly silver conductors or pure or mostly copper conductors, or different conductors for different cables depending on where they will be ?
If you go to ClearCables, and talk to Paul, he'll send you some free for evaluation.  There is no better way to audition cables than to use it in your own system. 
@inna , I don't know what I'm thinking yet.  That's why I was hoping for some insight on how one makes a decision, not only in terms of how much to spend proportional to the investment one made in the kit, but also in how the technologies differ.

@stringreen, That stuff looks hella expensive.  What kinda dough are we talking about for, say, a balanced cable of 3' long from my Krell to the Bryston?

Parabolic, this is a vast and complicated subject. And you do have to have in mind a certain budget, a range. Also, would you consider used or only new. What's more, some used cables are nearly impossible to find, and for a good reason.
Folks, don't stone me, for the balanced connection, Mogami Gold is cheap and terrific. Also a fan of acoustic zen and analysis plus- I'm a fan of single crystal copper cables. And don't knock Mogami- they are a real cable manufacturer (unlike most audiophile cable companies) and certain very pricey cables covered in techflex (to hide the true origin?) are actually Mogami sourced. 

For rca - also reasonably priced - I'm a fan of Rega interconnects. Inexpensive and if you are handy with a soldering iron, all it is is Klotz instrument cable and Neitrik Profi plugs, You can make a 1 meter set for $50 or $60. I also like Dh labs. 

speaker cable? Go to blue jeans cables.

these are all budget friendly suggestions which work very, very well. 
We won't stone you, we'll hang you.
Mogami balanced may be something to start with and go from there.
As for RCA, it's a different story. I still have my DiMarzio RCA which is quite good, excellent for the price, but it is no longer good enough for my set-up. DiMarzio cables are famous guitar pro cables.
And speaker cables, well, are importan too.
Purist Audio are not inexpensive cables to put it mildly, though now they have couple of entry level models priced quite low.
I would recommend these ICs and SCs...
KLEI zPurity888 ICs 
KLEI zPurity8 SCs
  
@inna , I specifically asked for HOW to set a budget, so I can't answer your question about what my budget is just yet.

Does one allocate a percentage (i.e. 10%) of the cost of the equipment?  For example, if my system has an original MSRP of $6000, do I allocate $600 for cables?  If so, then how does one break down that budget - do you spend more on speaker cables than on interconnects or do you divide it equally?

Your other question is very good.  What are the downsides of purchasing used cables?

Folks, just to be clear, I have no desire to get into the upgrade game.  Starting with 'entry level' cables and then having to upgrade later seems a waste of money to me - unless what I'm asking for is, in the grand scheme of things - considered 'entry level'.  I know people who spent as much on an entire system as you guys do for a halfway decent balanced cables, so I guess it's all relative.

I don't mind spending the money, but I want to spend it once and get it done.  However, there's no sense in buying cables that are vastly superior to the equipment they're connected to any more than it makes sense to put a $7000 supercharger onto a Toyota Yaris... if 'ya know what I mean.

Thanks again in advance for the input!
" vastly superior' - no, just as good as the equipment - yes.
I heard that there are some fake cables, buy only from sellers that look and sound reliable. Worn connectors can be one issue, bent cables in the wrong places another.
This is my opinion. Forget about suggested retail prices, think in terms of real dollars that you would have to pay. Same with the equipment. Though it may vary, I think 20 % or so of the cost of the entire system is reasonable. Also depends on how many sources you have. I have three sources, though usually use only two.
Check out The Cable Company. They have a lending library whereby you can audition different cables for a fee (which is deducted from a purchase).

Call them and they will make recommendations based on your budget and your components.
I have been very pleased with Grover Huffman cables. Reasonably priced, 60 day trial and trade in if he comes out with a upgrade.
@inna Since I built my system using older components that were pre-owned, would it not make sense to compare apples to apples by looking at the cost of pre-owned cables?  I have all of about $3000 into the DAC, Krell, Bryston, Polk and Dahquists.  Do you think I possibly get a decent set of cables other than what Best Buy carries that would do justice to my equipment by spending $600?

@lowrider57 That's a clever business model, and I'd certainly do that especially given the fact that they're only about 2 hours South of me in PA.  However their prices don't exactly seem competitive.  In fact, they look to be anywhere from 25% to 50% more than everyone else for any given item.  It's one thing to apply the 'rental' fee to a purchase, but holding you hostage by not being price competitive is a real turn-off.  I'm from New Jersey originally... I know what making an "offer you can't refuse" looks like when I see it.  ;-)
parabolic,
I was about to recommend ClearDay, as stringreen had mentioned.

But if their prices are high, then I would recommend the Analog Series from Signal Cables for interconnects. For speaker cables, you could go with Ultra series. Talk to Frank from Signal. He can lend you some cables to try in your system. They are pretty good.
No I don't think $600 will be enough, you need a lot of cables. But I can't say how much would be. Besides, price/performance ratio varies. It would probably be at least double of those $600 for four sets.
I've written about this topic before but my experience with many brands and models of ICs and speaker cables has led me to settle on Audioquest budget level cables and AntiCables. Especially AntiCables products, which I feel offer one of the best values available.
You'd probably be best just to look around for some Mogami wires. Pretty good quality cables, and inexpensive enough. It will probably be a nice step up over the Monster cables that you are currently using.
Blue Jeans Cable, http://www.bluejeanscable.com.
They sell good quality budget cables...Belden and Canare. These have neutral sonics and are used in many recording studios.
You could outfit your entire kit and stay within your budget.



ClearDay is much less expensive than you might think....I'm using DoubleShotgun....the most expensive.  I was surprised how cheap considering they're silver (but don't sound like what people think silver sounds like)...  If you're an inquisitive audiophile, just get the review samples he lends out.
I agree to at least look into Clear Day Double Shotgun speaker cable; start there and use Mogami, Canare or Belden IC’s until your budget allows to upgrade later. I started with the Double Shotguns and later added Pauls single and balanced IC’s. Great cables for the money... you’ll have to spend much more to better them. As mentioned earlier, Paul will send you a set with no money upfront to make sure you like his cables first so what do you have to lose? Clear Day single IC’s are fairly affordable so not sure you can buy much for much less anyway. Paul’s balanced cable is a little pricier but it’s a great cable.
Paul at Clear Day will sell you only what you need. His cables far outperform their price point and he's one of the most personable audio people I've talked with. Plus, he makes all his own stuff right in the Southwest. 
Regarding budget determination for cables, I allocate 10% to 15% of the price I paid for the components to be interconnected to the cables to do so. Then buy used off AG or Ebay.

I purchased Audioquest Columbia interconnect cables and Kimber 12TC speaker cables.

As can be noted here and on many other cable threads, Clear Day Cables (and Paul) come highly recommended for quality budget cables. If I was looking to change cables I would give Paul a call.
If you wish to try those Clear cables, I suggest you first get his best RCA and put it on your DAC, then the second cable and so on. First cable in the chain is the most important. Another approach is to get all Clear cables right away, all top of the line, burn them in for 200 hours and then decide. Since you can return them there is no risk except that you may like them a lot and would have to pay perhaps a little more than you planned. Personally, I would probably take the first approach. 200 hours no less. Do not judge any cable before that.
Yo.  Another Joysey boy here.  Agree with Inna that spending $600 likely won't help you much and may even hurt.  I've had lots of cables and interconnects over the years, but the ones I've stuck with are Acoustic Zens.  Are they the best out there?  No.  But they accomplish a very nice balance of detail, soundstaging, tonality, and musicality that's not always a given especially among the lower and medium priced options.  Read the reviews -- they're pretty spot on to my experience with them.  I'd recommend buying used as they're an extremely good price/performance value that way, and if they turn out not to be your cuppa you can sell them for little or no loss since there's a good used market for them.  I'd get Silver Reference IIs for interconnects (or original version is fine too if the IIs are out of budget) and Satori speaker cables and then just fuggettaboudit.  Best of luck. 

The OP's got Krell and Bryston, this means bass and dynamics are very important. How do Acoustic Zens do that?

Transparent cabling should be in consideration.
@soix What exit?  LOL.  I've been from Bergen in the North to Ocean and a brief stint in Cape May (Wildwood) for nine months before moving to PA.

I'm beginning to seriously incline to pre-owned, for the reasons you suggest, for the same reason I chose the Krell as opposed to a Tortuga... if I don't like it, I can 'flip it' and not lose much, if anything at all.  There's some wisdom there.

What do y'all think about XLO?  There's a balanced set on Ebay right now for $200-ish the pair.  Not sure if that's a good cable or a good price.  Your thoughts?

@inna Your point about starting from the source and gonig to speakers is the kind of advice I was looking for.  Basic principles, basic concepts, are what are helpful to me.  Case in point, I figured since the speakers would be the weakest link in the chain that I'd start with the speaker cables first and work backwards.  Go figure.
I just bought some new Dynaudio Contour S3.4 speakers with an upgraded Esotec tweeter set. They are much more revealing than my Harbeths which were bi-wired with Purist Audio Museaus speaker cables. The Purist spades will have to be bent to fit the Dynaudios and, ideally, I would switch out the other set of spades with bananas. That will cost, choke, $35 for EACH banana, or $140. In the meantime I'm using an old pair of Signal cables and then I borrowed some Kimber 12tc cables from a friend. Since they are bananas and my Luxman has A and B speaker terminals, I can literally switch A and B to compare. I can't tell the difference. Is that because the Kimber isn't significantly better? Or are the Signal cables really good? My long-winded takeaway is don't buy something because you think you'll find some cables that magically make everything sound optimum. It won't. I'd buy some Signal cables or Bluejean, and then find something that actually sounds better in your system. It might take 10x the cost. 
I'm beginning to seriously incline to pre-owned, for the reasons you suggest, for the same reason I chose the Krell as opposed to a Tortuga... if I don't like it, I can 'flip it' and not lose much, if anything at all. There's some wisdom there.

Really the only way to go, IMHO. I've gone through dozens of cable manufacturers in the last 30+ years, and the only way to really know what you like is to listen to it for yourself in your own room, with your own gear.

Buying used you can be pretty sure they are already burned in too. Don't like 'em? Flip 'em.

What do y'all think about XLO? There's a balanced set on Ebay right now for $200-ish the pair. Not sure if that's a good cable or a good price. Your thoughts?
XLO are nice cables, powerful, clean sounding. Personally, I like the Acoustic Zen a bit better, a touch more warmth and sound-stage depth, but it really depends on what you like, not what someone else likes.

Also, a word of warning, be careful when buying used cables on Ebay, many fake cables out there coming from China. XLO has had problems with this, and has resorted to putting holograms on some of their pricier cables. XLO is not alone, Audioquest, Tara Labs, many good cable manufacturers have been fighting the fake cable battle for years now.
Ebay is a hotbed for cable fraud.
Signal cable!  Crazy good and crazy cheap.  Call Frank Dai and get a 30 day trial.  
I would never buy cables on ebay unless it is a legitimate dealer who also sells elsewhere. Some people may not even know that they are selling fakes, it is not always intentional. Ebay is world's biggest flea market, not a good place for buying audiophile stuff. 

Exit 2 off the Palisades near Alpine.  Love Cape May.  Guessing your taxes got cut in half or more?  Don't even tell me.  I don't wanna know.  If you want to drive your butt up here to Bergen I've got a bunch of AZ and other cables and interconnects you can demo for the price of gas.  Just sayin'.
Might just take you up on that, if you let me bring the beer.  My folks still live in Washington Twp and I'm still a member at the Tenafly Masonic lodge, so it could be a banner day.  Tell me... is HIram's still in Fort Lee off Lemoine?
You should look at black cat cables
I'm a couple towns north of Tenafly.  If you PM me (not sure how that works BTW) so we don't keep bothering these fine folks with Jersey crap I can make you an offer you can't refuse.
Blue jeans cable. High quality and transparent. They don't believe that speaker wire should be used as a tone control. 
@soix I'm not sure if there *is* a PM function... but if your last name ends in a vowel... I might have a moment of pause.  ;-)    All kidding aside, that sounds very gracious of you.  Not sure how to sidebar this conversation, but the input is pretty good so far.  Lots to consider.  If you find a way we can exchange contact information securely, let me know.

@seanheis1 The guys at Blue Jeans are on my short list.... especially after that letter the owner sent to Monster Cable.
In process myself and best to consider "fun" and part of being an audiophile.  I was an AQ guy then borrowed some lower end Transparent Cable Gen 5 and was blown away by the difference (All ICs were still AQ it was just speaker cable).

My buddy was a huge help and I'd highly recommend doing a fully blinded test.  Pick 4-5 tracks that cover the range of music you like - listen to 1 minute of each, then, w/ same cable listen to all 5 again (Oh - cardboard placed over any spot where I could see which cable was hooked up and buddy switched them out and wrote down).  Then have buddy blindly switch them out and repeat the same music.  With higher end AQ and mid end MIT - MIT blew out of water.  (listened to the second set for about a minute it was so obvious).  

Then the bigger test.  ~$3-3,400 range for 10' MIT vs TC Gen 5 Ultra.  Blinded again and it took a little longer, maybe 2 more minutes and TC Ultra killed the 39 pole MITs.

I don't care about brand name- poles, geometry or any of that other BS - that's why I went completely blinded.

I don't have a great audiophile ear but I know what I like - and that is your challenge - take the time and find what sounds best to you (blinded)

"Which speaker cable" will pose about a million different opinions.  Not all cables sound the same, even in the same price range.  What I have found from a lot of R&D is that better material will provide better sound:

- solid core wire is better than stranded wire (stranded will give a bright/harsh effect).

- OFC copper is better than tinned/cheap copper.  OCC (Ohno) copper is better than OFC.

- Normal Silver (even 5N silver) will typically have an upper midrange glare/push and will not have as much bass/midbass punch.

- OCC silver is better in that it will not have that upper midrange glare.

- braided copper shielding will usually result in a more closed-in sound (not as open or airy = high frequency rolloff).

- braided conductors will sound better (think Kimber).

- silver cables may be faster, but they sometimes may not have an much bass.

I hand build all my own cables from 20awg solid core OCC wire.  My cousin has tested the WireWorld Exclipse (which uses 28awg OCC conductors in a near solid-core configuration -- they are definitely not bundled strands).  The report is the Eclipse does very well, but I will not be able to hear this and compare to my cables until next weekend.  I will see if it sounds as good as my custom braided cable.

oh, another comment on speaker wire.  I have done comparisons and the regular OFC copper stranded 12awg speaker wire (basic monster wire) is actually very very nice.  I usually do double-runs to bi-wire at speaker where they support it.  This is actually better than the BlueJeans Beldon 10awg speaker cable.  The Beldon was actually very lo-fi and could not reproduce the high frequency resolution.  Any sort of silver plated cable was too bright. 

-disclaimer - of course you will have to figure out synergy between equipment.  Sometimes silver or silver-plated can help some systems if they are just too laid back, but in my opinion, the better solution is to focus on the resolution of the equipment with good power supplies and circuits.

High fidelity cables.  Clarity cables

ebm is right.  Purist Audio Design.  30 years of the best cables on earth.
High quality with moderate price, some used Transparent Cables would be good with starting either with Music Wave Plus MM2 or Super MM2 series. Audioquest Colorado IC and Gibraltar Speaker Cables would be good neutral cables as well. 
Yeah, my last name ends in a vowel but it's an Irish vowel.  My wife's maiden name, however, does end in a vowel and she makes a mean gravy.  I'm sure you know what I mean by "gravy."  Anyway, screw it.  Let's go old school and just call me at 201-519-0759.  I won't answer because I don't know your number so leave a voicemail.  We should talk.  
@soix 

you mean the kind of gravy that goes with macaroni? if you know what I mean?

Is there another kind?

Leave the gun.  Take the cannolis. 
Depends on how you define 'gravy'.

Some day you may be called upon to do your Don a service.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. 

These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood.