Suggest affordable cable options


My current setup is as follows: Bowers and Wilkins CM10 s2 (speakers), Parasound A21 (amp), Cambridge Audio Azur 851D DAC/Preamp connected to the amp via balanced connectors.

I am currently using cheap Audioquest ($50) cables and have been advised by many at Agon that upgrading to better speaker wires would yield considerable results. Now, when it comes to cables I'm admittedly not so educated, so I can surely use some advise here.

I want to stay below $750 - open to both new or used. Someone at Audiogon suggested Clear Day cables which can be had for around $500 for the top option. My only concern is that B&W are already known to be a bit forward/bright, so adding silver cables, which also have a reputation to be a bit on the bright side (feel free to correct me if this assumption is just plain wrong), might not be the most prudent approach.

Unfortunately, the more I research the more I get confused. Some say that it's a waste of money, and that a wire is a wire is a wire. Others advise to stick with name brands such as Audioquest, Tara Labs, etc. While others swear by boutique but affordable options such as Clear Day cables. Usually, the reason given by this camp is that the cables are more affordable because they manufacturers don't have marketing overhead. However, I'm sure the more established companies have higher profit margins that potentially lead to bigger and better R&D.

Regardless, one thing is for sure -- I'm not in the mood to spend more than 30% of what my system is worth.
arafiq
anticables
bluejeancable.com
thanks tbromgard ... how would you compare these to Audioquest Rocket 88 (they are selling for around $400 used)?

A friend of mine had bought anti-cables but was not too impressed and ended up buying something else. Of course, this doesn't mean they won't work in my system.

+1 for Anticables

Also take a look at J W Audio, affordable and effective

For the exceptional, look at KLE Innovation gZero2 and gzero6
I have the gZero6 on my audio system and they are superb
I also have the gZero2 on my AV system and they are also very good

Regards
clear day.  If they don't jive with your gear, send them back. Paul is great to deal with!
What you've been advised isn't completely true. Yes, you can change the sound to the better or worse with changing cables, but the budget has little-to nothing to do with that. Higher budget cables are more of the fashion(definitely looking more nicer) than performance. Ideal cable has to match your speakers and amp and since it's hard to match parameters, you can experiment with ones similarly priced to yours. You can also experiment with simple wire that is available on internet with best OFC parameters and make your own cable or keep it as wire.

Definitely and very most definitely you won't need to spend $750 or $500 or even $400 for used cable to hook up Parasound A21. It's called skimming or pitching a product you don't really need!

If you want to feel difference try Signalcable or bluejean cables above recommended (once again not sure which side of sound will it take better or worse or something new you want to have), but most-likely your current budget AudioQuest is sufficient enough. No need for silver cables in most of cases especially with Parasound A21/B&W CM10.

Any cable you try trust me, you can stay within the budget of your current cable.


Either Darwin or Amadi silver wires.  Both companies' wires are extremely clear, but without bite or etch.  You can get the Amadi top of the line Maddie Signature for $600 for the speakers and they are awesome.  Their top ICs sell for $220. They have deep, tight bass, clear lucid mids and well defined highs.   The Darwins look so-so but sound very nice also.  They start at the Silver II at about $350, then there is the Ascension, Ascension Plus, and at the top, the Truth.  Either companies' wires are a big step up from the good for the money companies like Morrow (I had many versions of), Signal Cable, Crimson, Speltz (I've had all 3).  If you get either companies' wires, your off the cable merry go round.  They sound as good or better than the expensive wires--read that the over $1000-$2000 wires.
(1) ~ 10% of your ex-cables system $$ cost is what you should be looking at shelling out.

(2) Consider buying quality-build used cables wherever possible for considerable cost-savings.

BUT....AND ITS A BIG "BUT" ....Avoid and ignore the ads originating from China on E-Bay,  AGON ,and elsewhere claiming to be cheap $$ options for bona-fide OEM brand cables.

The OEM cable companies invariably have big cautions and horror stories on their websites about built-like-s**t fakes made with inferior materials and crap assemblies. These fake cables are made-in-China / South Asia that are POS cheap scam fakes that are not the real OEM brand deal,and they perform as bad as they are made.

(3) The next crap-shoot is that system synergy matters BIGTIME. A blind speaker cable purchase strictly based on arbitrary price floors with no actual auditions, has a very large risk of a bad purchase outcome. 

(4) what about the system synergy (or now lack of it) with the ICs if new speaker cables are suddenly in the offing?...One size does not fit all there either

My thoughts:
 
You may not be able to avoid all risks, but you may be able to manage them.

Inquire what B&W dealers favour as THEIR FAVE cables brands (for ALL the cables...= speaker + IC + power) with YOUR speaker models

Also do your homework and check out  what they set up with at the audio expos... ...

= a much safer bet selection route IMO.
Consider Morrow Audio. 60 day returns allowed. They frequently have sales and you can buy used. Am running their SP-4 speaker cable and various of their ICs...MA3 & some MA4s. Have Clear Day speaker cable too which I very much like. The Morrow cable just seems to offer a little more clarity without getting "thin" sounding. Regarding silver, I did not find Clear Day/silver wire made things too bright. The Clear Day definitely brought greater heft to the musical presentation (and I don’t mean to say "heft" that was overweight or slow), not at all. I do have a CDP that is very detailed such that certain recordings can sound harsh. Am using Cardas Parsec ICs on that (between CDP and pre-amp). The Parsecs have definitely helped reduce harshness on too hot CDs.

FWIW - I was in the "wire is wire" camp for a long time until one evening when someone brought over some better cable and I heard a difference for myself. Good luck finding something affordable that gives you good sound.

Check out the Cable Company.  You can borrow from their library for a fee (10% of selling price which can deducted from the price if you decide to buy).  They might also have recommendations for you based on your gear.  There's no fool proof way that I know of to get it right "a priori".  To a certain extent you will just have to do some reading, get some advice (as you have here) and make some choices about what to try first.  Let your ears (and purse) be the final judge.   
So many different paths to choose, but it's your money, only you can make the final decision. Many folks tune the way their system sounds with cables. While others will say that if you find your system sounding a little bright, you are better off changing amp and/or speakers.

For me, it's easier to tune a systems sound to my tastes using cables, rather than changing speakers/amps, etc. Others will disagree I'm sure.
The final sound is a result of the whole system, including cables, so you make your own call.

All that said, if I were in you situation, I would probably look to buy a used pair of Acoustic Zen Satori. You should be able to find a used pair for well under $500. Full, warm, dimensional sound.

I do agree with Dorwad, that Amadi cables are an exceptional value. I also think that using pure silver doesn't have to sound bright. However, if your system already leans to the bright side, the Amadi cables will not tame the harshness either.

You can either try from the boutique dealers new, and use the trial period, and if it doesn't work return it, or buy name brand used, and if it doesn't work sell it.

One word of warning though, if buying boutique new, keep to the trial period and trust your ears. I find that many of these manufacturers will implore you to keep the cables longer as they are still "burning in".
Meanwhile, the trial period will expire while you are still trying to make them work. Common trick, don't fall for it. If they aren't working for you, send them back. Don't let them talk you into extended auditions.

All of this advice, and all that you have already received (wire is wire, stick to name brands, go for the boutique but affordable options) none of them are right, but none of them are wrong either. ;^)

Happy Hunting,
John
+1 on the Morrow cables. I have moved up the chain and am very happy, my last stop. They also are excepting trade-ins during the current promotion. I owned the clear double shot guns and they were very good cables but did not help with a pair of Monitor Audio GX300 speakers that have a tendency toward brightness.
+1 on Acoustic Zen Satori.
Wire is most definitely not wire. But it is not a function of budget, either, as Czar points out.

The physics comes directly from Maxwell's Equations: high inductance attenuates high frequency as a linear function of length, for currents in the loudspeaker range. Also, for currents in this range, dielectric absorption (DA) is not much of an issue, so teflon speaker cables don't confer much benefit over polyester. But they do cost a whole lot more.

In this case, inductance boils down to separation of the conductors: more separation, more inductance. I use two independent wires for speaker cable, and use the spacing as one method of tuning; mostly in my system I like runs of 50 cm, close together, to maintain high frequencies.

You might want to start with four pieces of 12 AWG wire, costing a few bucks, and see how it works for you. If it does work, invest in some Oxygen Free Copper wires. Never know, you might end up with a free cartridge from all the money you saved.

Zu Audio still has the Event Mk 1 for sale at discount. They are incredibly open and full range to boot and should be under your target price provided they're not very long runs.

All the best,
Nonoise

Don't listen to any advice except this: Buy used cables…seriously…people compulsively dump great sounding cables all the time and used wires have to be among the best buy you can make for a hifi rig, and if it was audiophile owned it's likely pampered…no moving parts, broken in already (uh huh)…you get the picture. Sell 'em on if they suck.
+1 to Cz's post.  While there are a number of good suggestions for inexpensive cables above, the ones you have are pretty good for the system you have as well.  If you want to change flavors, fine, do it as Wolf suggests buying used, but I'd stay with what you've got if you like the sound.  Wires can make a difference, but not always for the better, and price does not necessarily correlate with quality.
Try ( not necessary) to stay within the same family/general era of cables for IC, digital coax & speaker wires.  A great synergy occurs with year 2000 era or so Tara Labs top of line RSC-series cables...mine are Tara Labs RSC Reference ICs, Tara Labs Decade digital coax and Tara Labs RSC Prime biwire speaker cables. Super cost-effective in that, with some waiting for them to show up on Audiogon, they cost me total of less than $600.
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I would recommend trying some Mogami 2549 with Furutech 126(g) gold connectors from Take Five Audio (in Canada, well made cables plus our US dollar is strong with them). Get the ground lifted at one end to make them shotguned / directional. Also their Mogami 2921 speaker wire setup for single or bi wire with gold BFAs completes the setup. I use both in my system and if Mogami is good enough for the recording studios it is good enough for me.

I’ve owned Mogami 2549 with many different connectors, each time I tried a better one, I noticed a difference, usually for the better.

You should be able to rewire your whole system with the Mogami I recommend and use for a very reasonable price. Not affiliated with Take Five Audio. They put together a great product. 

I've worked hard to get where my system is now, hardly ever paying full retail and usually buying used. I think the Mogami cables fit in perfectly for sound and the same approach I've used with the assembly of my system. 

https://www.takefiveaudio.com/mall/shopexd.asp?id=1358
Thanks for the great ideas everyone. To be honest, given the variety and breadth of the advice, I’m even more confused now, ha!

Based on what I read, here’s what I took away:

1. Higher price does not necessarily equate to better performance.
2. Buying used is a better route -- and I completely agree
3. Silver wires might not cause the sound to be brighter but they won’t help in that aspect either
4. There’s no substitute to experimenting with different options - so the Cable Co. might be my best bet if that’s what I decide to do

Did some research and, based on the advise here, I’m currently leaning toward Morrow cables. Incidentally, another Agoner (didn’t contribute to this thread though) paired his Parasound A21 with Morrow cables and is very happy with the results. But the question is which price point? Morrow seems to be catering from the low hundreds to over $2000. Someone’s selling Morrow Audi SP6 for around $450 here at Audiogon.

The other option is the Acoustic Zen Santori but I can’t find pricing information on their website. It points to their dealer network. TBH, I’m leary of buying from a dealer and paying that extra markup. Also, I cannot find anything used.

Lastly, one thing that I didn’t mention before was that I’m doing most of my listening via streaming. Mac --> iTunes --> Airplay --> Apple TV --> TosLink (thinking of replacing with digital coax) --> DAC

My current thinking is that perhaps replacing the Apple TV with a better streamer (Aurelic or Bluesound Node 2) is probably a better use of my money at this point. Apple TV’s limitations (48khz sampling) are well known. Also, I’m doing a lot more Tidal nowadays and have been told that the Bluesound Node 2 kicks ass when it comes to Tidal or Spotify.

What do you guys think? Should I upgrade the streamer first or speaker cables?

Check The Cable Co. on-line to get an idea about prices. They carry new as well as used cable.  I see Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cable listed at $708 for a new 5 ft pair.
I see a 6 foot pair of AZ Satori on US Audiomart (yes, there is life outside of Audiogon) listed for $350. You could probably get them for $250-275 delivered.

Check out HiFi Shark, it will show you all of the used sites, current and past, so you have an idea of what prices are.

Also, there are some AZ internet dealers on Audiogon (sade, mlmusic). You could ask what they would charge for a new pair of Satori’s, I bet it would be under $500.

BTW, your 4 takes are pretty accurate. Only issue I see is that number 4 interferes with number 2.
If you choose to go The Cable Company route, you will NOT be paying used prices.
Choose Satori with termination you want.  Re-terminating might not be straight forward.  It has whole bunch (around 11) of individual solid insulated strands plus one insulated stranded wire, consisting of many very thin strands.  My Satori Shotgun (bought used for $650), had banana plugs.  I replaced them myself with Audioquest spades.  Cable is very thick, but it doesn't affect anything and looks cool.
another vote for ClearDay cables.  I replaced Acoustic Zen Satoris with ClearDay double shotguns and am VERY pleased with the change.

Cables are system dependent and the ones that sound the best may sometimes be the least expensive. I have two large bags of interconnects, some are expensive and some are much less costly. It was shocking to me that after careful experimentation sometimes the ones that provide the best synergy "are" the least expensive, not always the case though. It was recommended above that "Signal Cable" offers a high value for the cost, I agree and I'm currently employing one of their interconnects between the preamp and power amp with spectacular results.  If I were to change a component in the system I would more than likely have to start over trying different interconnects to get the sound I seek.

from the posts above i figured it's very cool to have $750 cables with $1,000 speakers and according to trivial math calculations and predictions, the speakers should work totally different and improve the sound to sound twice as good vs. with current wires.

I'm going to put in another plug for Clear Day cables. I've been running a set of 8' Clear Day Shotgun cables ($270/8ft pair) on both Reference 3a de Capo's and Acoustic Zen Adagios. I just now put in a pair of Acoustic Zen Satori's ($800/6ft pair - though I got a direct buy discount), and though the cables haven't had the recommended 48 hrs break-in time, the difference for the most part, for now, is negligible.

Give Clear Day a try. Paul will make your cable based on what speakers you have and won't over-sell you. Plus, he's an amazing and customer-service oriented craftsman.

Disclosure: I'll most likely keep the Satoris in my main system and let them break in and breathe a while before I make any final decision. Like Paul Radauti at Clear Day, Mr. Robert Lee, the man behind everything Acoustic Zen, is also a consummate craftsman, engineer, and honest guy.
@arafiq Just pm'd you with contact info in AZ and Clear Day.
I use Clear Days exclusively and they are not bright at all; revealing yes but not at all bright, edgy or fatiguing. I took my double shotguns and IC's to a local shop to let them hear them which they know Paul only sells directly. Funny thing is they have recommended them to at least four long time customers and one of the employees there has bought a set from Paul. That's pretty funny they are doing this, helping out a guy who they can't pick up his line to carry in their store.

I will admit I've questioned if I should look elsewhere as my equipment is where most would spend a lot more on cables but I am so happy with my system that I have absolutely no desire to look elsewhere and in fact I will be buying another set of Paul's balanced cables this month.

Don't think I haven't listened to and tried a lot more expensive cables by others because I have and nothing I've tried outperformed the Clear Days. I find to my ears on my system they are less of a tone control than anything else I've tried; and yes all cables are some sort of a tone control. I feel for the money they get out of the way better than any cable I have tried.

Don't take my word, drop Paul a line and he'll send you some demos at no cost. I'm not sure he still does that but when I first spoke to him, he sent me his double shotguns without even wanting a credit card. He's a very trusting guy so hopefully no one has ever ripped him off. Can't speak highly enough about Paul. He's a great person to deal with.

Good luck.
I still think the OP should try the Mogami 2549 with ground lifted at one end (shotgunned - directional) with the Furutech 126(g) from Take Five Audio for less than $100 shipped nicely terminated and flex wrapped.

You might try Signal Cable. Frank makes all cables to order. They are low impedance and well shielded. He will terminate them any way you want. Plus his prices are very reasonable.


www/signalcable.com
I have had really good results using BlueJeans cables (Interconnect and speaker) They are reasonably priced too. Beat my AudioQuest hands down but that may be due to system compatibility.
I too own a Halo A21 in one of my systems and love it.  Anticables work, I run AC speaker cable in two systems and some of their IC's as well.  I have a mish-mash of cable, some Shunyata, some Jungson, some JW Audio.  The Shunyata is best and can be considered 'affordable' if you visit Weekend Environments and check the specials.  That said, the Anticable works very very well.  Associated equipment includes First Sound and Parasound JC-2 pre amps, Sonus Faber and Talon loudspeakers, Bel Canto and A21 amps, among other gear. 
Call the Cable Company  and try the Low End Purist cables  good quality and nice sound without selling your car.
Take the advice of Jeff Day (Positive Feedback), Jim Smith (of "Get Better Sound Fame"), and purchase the Yazaki-san recommended Western Electric WE16ga, or if you can't find it the WE14ga. About $80 bucks or so. See lengthy thread above. Best, Rob
Sorry if someone already mentioned it but for a low cost alternative the ,"white lightning " cables ,(6 moons site DIY) don't sound half bad for speaker cable anyway. YMMV

another vote for Clear Day cables.   Nothing I've done to my system was as beneficial.
10' Straigtwire Serenade II Biwire, $350.00 on Audiogon. (Price reduced) New,, price is well over a $1000.00. I'm not aware of the system compatability. Maybe others here do.

N
Believe it or not, ever since i posted my last message here, i've been on the road almost constantly ... either that, or working 14 hour days. ugh!!

Anyways, since most of my listening is via streaming nowadays, I've decided to address the network and source issues first. So the plan is to upgrade in the following order:
1. Better router - my current router sucks, too many wifi drops, especially when listening to Tidal
2. Better streamer - Apple TV is okay, but I'd like to give either Bluesound or Auralic a try 
3. Speaker cable - based on the suggestions here, I'm leaning heavily toward Clear Day, Morrow Audio and AZ Satori, in that order. I guess I should expect to do some experimentation before settling on the final one. Don't see any other way around it.

Again, really appreciate the responses. I just wish I had more time to listen to music. In the last two months, I've only listened twice or thrice. Not fun!!