Surveying what's out there and making a paper value judgement is an impossible task in my opinion. there are way too many manufacturers, with different models and geometries, and each audio system will be somewhat different.
Dive in and try a few speaker cables in your system and that experience will steer you on.
In my opinion and experience with cables, there are many out there that will satisfy you.
You will also likely develop subjective attachment or affection to one or more brands as you try a few. That will help to keep your sanity, and is a good thing overall.
I have also found then that continuing your quest, after reaching satisfaction and listening enjoyment, will promote development of nervosa, dissatisfaction and rapid cable swapping; not at all a good thing.
If you give Alex at WyWires your information, he will build cables to fit your needs.
First, anyone's opinion is subject to their peculiarites, and system.
So no matter what, no systematic evaulation of speaker cables would ever do anyone any good, unless you happened to be the evaluators twin, and owned the same stuff.
All the generalizations about which one is best.. you can get a vague idea of what stuff sounds like out there. But one has to be willing to bother finding it and reading it all to even start getting an idea of what is what.
We all want a magic fix so we have the best, perfect sounding system at a low price.
that fantasy does not exist in the real world.
Finally, since the differences in cables is pretty small, chasing after the 'Holy Grail' of speaker calbes is basically folly.
You should just buy some local cable from a dealer in HI and don't worry, be happy.
And since this is not the answer you wanted to read.. Also do not bother to recognize any of what i wrote, and continue on you quest for the perfect speaker cable. Eventually you will find the right cable for your amp/speakers.. problem is as soon as you find it, you will go out and buy NEW SPEAKERS, or a new amp.. and have to start all over again.
I use Kimber 8TC only because it was well regarded by many writers.. That is good enough, and it sounds good. I have my grail and can eat it too. because i do not need perfection, just really good.
I guess that means i am not a 'real audiophile'.
As Elizabeth says..... This is the quest of Don Quixote. There is no "bible" of speaker wire. There can never be. You will never find the perfect cable because you will always wish for something "better" and others experience will not translate into your experience. I don't know your system, but, short of a $100,000 system, I don't you believe will know the difference. That said, go for low resistance (big gauge) and pure copper (with or without silver coating) and it will be fine. I have gone to Kimber Kable 8PR (naked ends) and Morrow SP-1 on the top and I'm happy. Please don't fret too much. Life is too short to be overly concerned about speaker wire. And, like Elizabeth, I am not an Audiophile.
Elisabeth, I doubt that I will go out and buy new speakers after I find what you term the "right speaker cable" I have been doing audio for 40 years, and I am not a fool
Your comments is similar to a friend's who once chastized me for buying a Phase Linear 400 power amp because he thought it would THEN COMPEL me to buy new speakers in a never ending spiral of buying. Did not happen!! I sold my beloved ESS-7 speakers to buy a Eurail pass, packed my bags, locked up the house, and travelled for 6 weeks in Europe.
If you need to know, when I returned and shook off the dust, I bought 4 large Advent speakers to create the infamous "stacked" double Advent system. And, Wow, did that sound awesome driven by Phase 400 amp....a fortuitous purchase
I don't think finding the appropriate cable, whether interconnect or speaker cable, (or even component), is lapsing into audio nervosa, but I do think it is plenty dumb to just plug in any old wire, and IMAGINE or PRETEND you are in hog heaven. I have a half of a utility drawer of IC's ranging in price from $50 to $700, and in age from 1988 to 2009, but I am not going to start collect speaker cables.
From what I read, Trnasparent Music Link Super is probably the ticket, or even the new Nordost LS Red Dawn. I have to use a use a 12 ft pair to accomodate the living set-up, and also avoid a nuclear war with the wife. So, I would say those pricey wires are eliminated; so, the other options I indicated before are under serious consideration.
KK's 12TC is overpriced for a 12 ft pair, and those lengths are not just gathering dust on audio show floor waiting to be discounted and moved out. Pairs of KK's 8TC often abound on Audiogon, but may be because long term owners are opting for the 12TC model, or greener sonic pastures with other brands. Nevertheless, they are an option, but my instincts tell me the Acoustic Zen Adagios will call for a one or two steps up the speaker cable ladder.
Lastly, I ask before, and I would like to know, unless classified by the NSA, what components, cables and ICs make up Elizabeth's audio system. BTW, I am an Audiophile but was cured of "audio nervosa" by Trappist monks who prescribed strong drink and Sunday NFL football. Thanks, Jim
There is very little in common sonically between Transparent and Nordost cables. The Kimber are different too and fall more in the middle of the other two companies.
I had very poor results with some highly regarded (and expensive) speaker cables, like some brands that you mention.
I have very good results with Mapleshade, Nordost Blue Heaven (more forgiving than others), and Morrow SP2, in my two systems. I also swap in a Lowes extension cord cable when I want a bit darker sound.
Who said speaker cables don't make alot of difference? I disagree. I think people don't want them to make much difference. Put in the Mapleshade and you'll be stunned.
Wires in my system:
A/C from dedicated 20mp outlet via four pairs of 12 gauge Mil Spec teflon silver plated dual quad twist about 35 feet to three duplex outlets. (one is split for one pair each side)
From those via Pangea AC9 power cords to:
1) PS Audio P600 (digital components only set to output 110hz A/C instead of 60Hz)
2) Furman REF20i(all other components)
All Pangea power cords except captive cords on CD changers..Various AC14SE and AC9.
My duplex are all stock heavy duty Pass & Seymour 20 amp
Speaker wires 4 ft Kimber 8TC biwired from Brystom 4B-SST2 to magnepan 3.6s
Pre to amp Kimber Hero balanced 7 meter
The others mostly homebuilt Mark Levinson (30 years old plus) wires with newish Vampire Tiffany style RCA. one Cardas, and a few KCAG Kimber. (the Mark Levinson wire has a sound similar to Cardas...)
Most of these wires I have owned for a long time. The Hero was bought 30 months ago so i could place the amp between speakers away from other electronics.
I bought the seven meter Hero primarily for price/value and it's reputation for neutrality.
I had recently reterminated the Mark Levinson wires.. Originally I had put Radio Shack RCA. (back in the early 1980s, not much else was around, and they had gradually been taken off as they developed ground faults from rotting solder on the grounds) I replaced with Tiffany style connectors as I like the way the ground is a pressure fit rather than a solder. Replacing the RCA really rejuvenated the wires. And they came out of the storage and back onto my system. (what went into storage are Nordost Blue heaven)
I have to state my 'wire philosophy' to keep it straight:
I agree wires make some difference. However on a theoretical side, the better way to spend money is on better electronics.
So I am fully in favor of the 10% 'ideal' price of wires to electronics ratio.
And actually, totally by chance, my wires are about 10% of what I paid for my equipment.
Adding in in the power conditioners adds in another 5% of total electronics. (The conditioner percentage is spread across video as well).. and well worth the cost)
I would say I am not as worried about wires as some folks here. But more concerned than another separate set of folks for whom wire is just wire.
And i also am into 'buy what is well regarded'. So Cardas, and Kimber are my favs. I dislike AQ for past QC reasons
And yeah i do think buying a reasonable wire well considered is best. Instead of trying dozens of "flavor of the day" crap. No problem to me for those who enjoy buying dozens of wires to see for themselves which one turns them on.
I am happy with what i have. The grass IS just as green right where i already am.
To Elizabeth, Thank you for explaining the make up of your audio system. I am sure it is a righteous sounding rig
To Sgsglx: If anything, you may have rekindled my interested in Mapleshade Audio speaker cable. There online photos and description of the speaker cables suck. If you should come back to the my thread. can you provide me a brief description of the overall quality of sound of the Golden Helix cable, esepcially regarding musicality or drawing one into the music. I am familiar with the sound of the Soliloquy speakers.....Audiogon keeps "promising" to restore the old system of off line communications which worked beautifully in their previous format I would not ask any member to divulge his home e-mail address on line. Thanks again to all, Jimbo
Sorry if I am stirring up a hornet's nest but in my system I consider wires components -- they are that important. My system -- and this cannot refer only to my system, IMO -- can be brought to its knees by inferior wiring. A system is as weak as its weakest link, IMO. I have spent 6 years researching this but I realize there are lots of people who have spent a lot more time on this. I don't particularly worry about what is "well regarded" although I have experimented with "well regarded" cables and do like some of them. In the end it comes down to what works best in my system. Since my system is unique I need to find out things for myself and not rely too much on the opinions of others.
I'll try to post again when I get more time, but if you'll search for mapleshade in the cables forum you'll see some of my other posts about them. Pluses and minuses, but mostly pluses.
I've probably had 20 or so pairs of commercially available speaker cables in my system, priced from $85 to well over $1000, all broken in, and of many different geometries.
At their best, when they have not been recently been bent and moved and the ac is clean, the Golden Helix is the most vivid, percussive, dynamic and having the best bass heft, punch and clarity of any of them. My favorite speakers (that I own) are the Soliloquy 5.0's and though the woofers are only 5.25", they regularly pressurize my room and drop into the 30's (based on a stereophile test cd).
With these cables in, my system is also quite sensitive to other things that are changed.
They do tend toward brightness so some of your rocordings may not work and they may not play nicely with all other cables or components.
Sabai, No need to qualify your opinion, stirring up the pot is one of the functions of the discussion forum So stir with gusto!!!
To Ssglx, Thanks for the follow and brief description of the Mapleshade's Golden Helix speaker cable; I think I might go for "Plus' version of the GH which is only $70 more. My system tends toward brightness so anything that will reduce or cancel any edge will be welcomed.
BTW, you did comment on the GH cable's musicality factor which is possibly the most important aspect of speaker cables which has such a direct effect on the sound. Of course there is the X factor, the speaker cables's synergy with not only other system cables, but the components in the system. Thanks Jim
amp, speaker and cable is the issue here. a given cable may have different effects when amp and speaker vary, so the project proposed is impractical. there are too many variables.
Sunnyjim, I also have run Mapleshade Double Helix plus with my Soliloquy 6.3i speakers, and as Ssglx says, it's a terrific combination. A word of warning though, if you are looking for additional sweetness, warmth or musicality, then I would not recommend the Mapleshade. They are very revealing and transparent, so they work well with warm, musical speakers like Soliloquy's. If your speakers are transparent and revealing and you are looking for cables to smooth out the sound, you are best to look in another direction.
Thanks -- I do this as a matter of course now for those who do not like to hear my opinions. When I put IMO, IMHO or in my system, the LOL and BS meter people stay away more often. This makes for a less argumentative discussion.
Have you tried HiDiamond? They are in an other league -- in my system.
Jmcgrogan2, Thanks for the tip about the GH plus; I think my system tends to sound tiped up. But, I will keep this in mind if I decide to buy. The price is reasonable and Mapleshade has a 30 day return policy
Try to find a pair of used Zu Libtecs on A'gon or Ebay. Lots of value for the money. I found them to work wonderfully with my ProAc's. If you don't like them you can usually resell for very minimal loss, if any.
MIT has dis continued 4 of their lines EXP AVT CVT Treminator and SHOTGUN great deals out there right now on these. I just picked up a pair of CVT's great improvement to me over Audioquest Bed Rocks
Always thought number of strands in the speaker cable was the key and beginning of what a speaker cable should be. Tinned, silver plated, blah blah and the jacket material...if I'm misled please enlighten me.
Preferred Speaker Cable Chart:
1. Wire = OCC = single crystal
2. Dielectric = FEP Teflon
3. Connectors = OCC = single crystal
4. Connector plating = silver or gold, if substrate is copper (Cu).
Note 1: Silver wire is brighter than copper wire.
Note 2: OFC is less expensive than OCC.
Note 3: Avoid brass, nickel, etc. content.
Note 4: Worldwide, only three or four manufacturers produce Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) wire.
Note 5: If your system sounds bright or fatiguing, you may be able to tame it with cables containing polypropylene, polyethylene, OFC, brass, etc.; and constructed with one solid conductor (skin effect) rather than many small braided strands.
Hope this helps.
I'll say this, I had no idea wires/cables of todays caliber existed. Guess you might say I'm a caveman, fell out my chair looking at some of these cables made today. Glad I stumbled into this forum, no way I could begin to learn even a small percentage of what most in here know.