The Big Boys vs. the Little Guys

Time for another cable thread. We all know who the big boys on the block are with cables: Nordost, Transparent, Monster *cough*, Cardas, Siltech, Kimber ... and others.

Then there are cables made by the "little guys" -- guys who design and hand-make their own cables ... like Randy Bear of Bear Labs, USA, and Jaap Gunter of Lieder Cables, in The Netherlands ... and I'm sure there are others ... like Granite Audio.

What do you think of the big boys vs. the little guys in terms of quality and VALUE? I know it's hard -- even a little stupid (hey, I can be like that!) to lump the large companies together and compare them against the small companies ... but I wonder if we can find a "golden thread" here and find some appropriate generalizations.

I'll weigh in with my own comments, based of course on my own experience, later ... first, I'd like to hear about your experiences. Thanks for your input!
I know this.I replaced Cardas(your big boy) with Purist Audio(little guy).Compared to the latter(even to the entry level Elementa)Cardas is such a junk:clogged,colored,unbalanced,bad instrument separation,poor soundstage and exagerated slow bass.That was about interconnects;Cardas speaker cables are for some reason better but still not good enough.
Well, bigger isn't always better. And for me everthing comes down to system compatabilty. But IMO, prices have gone through the roof for the mega cables....I like to support the little guy who gives great customer support and makes good or even outstanding product for the money....companies like virtual dynamics-Rick Schultz. I use two of their power cords,and Acoustic Zen[Robert Lee], people like these deserve their share of the market. They may never be as big as the big boys and that's okay too,,,part of their appeal. Don't knock poor old monster, I had their old sigma"water hose" speaker cable..and a couple of their better ic's, there was less competition 10 yrs ago. ...everyone has favourites and for a reason....
I used little guy(tekline) then went to big boy(cardas) now going back to little guy(jena labs) and am staying here for a very long time. If the Jena cables had a big name on them they would sell for 3-15 times what they do now, I am happy they are not that big........yet. ~Tim
I was using JPS Superconductor 2 speaker cables and also had one SC 2 interconnect and I decided to try the LAT International (little guy) cables. In my system, the LAT was clearly better.
I forgot to mention, the quality of the LAT is excellent.
I hope to hear more comments in this thread -- I find this fascinating and enlightening. But I promised to weigh-in with my experience, and I'll do so now.

With interconnects, I had an all-Nordost system; Blue Heaven ver.2 everywhere except in the CD player to preamp run, where I used the Red Dawn balanced. I then tried Jaap Gunter's Lieder RIJN RCA interconnect in place of the Red Dawn (actually, I had both in place -- the Plinius CD-LAD preamp allows you to connect both and switch between them with a touch of a button ... nice feature).

Brand new, the Lieder sounded roughly equivalent, which is to say, very good. But over two weeks time, the Lieder pulled away ... and then left the Red Dawn in its dust. The Lieder had far superior detail and especially treble resolution. Cymbals crashed and tambourines, etc., had that "live" sound; by comparison the Red Dawn muddied the high treble ... it "shhh'd" that portion of the sound spectrum. I'm now in the process of replacing all my Blue Heaven ver2 with Lieder RIJN ... I mean, if Jaap Gunter's Lieder RIJN bested the Red Dawn balanced, it should be even more superior as against the RCA Blue Heaven.

Now, speaker cables. I initially had Blue Heaven. But my Snell Reference A Towers use an umbilical running from their outboard crossovers to the speaker. The umbilical uses Kimber 8TC, so I thought I'd give the 8TC a try ... in a shotgun bi-wired version. These 2 were fairly close -- the Nordost perhaps a little quicker, the 8TC perhaps more balanced ... but still pretty close.

But I still didn't feel I was getting the performance which I knew the Snell Reference A Towers were capable of ... so I ordered Bear Labs, USA, Silver Thunder Speaker cables. These were not available in a shotgun bi-wired version (at least, not at the time), so I also ordered Bear's jumpers.

Again, initially, it was a close call. But after a week or so of 24-7 break-in, the Bear Labs showed its mettle ... or is it metal? (Okay, ... bad pun). I think the Bear Labs is superior to either the 8TC or the Blue Heaven speaker cables: faster, resolution 10 feet deep, dynamic, and detail to die for.

Now, I'm not sure I've reached the last word in speaker cables for my system (and I'm open to suggestions here), but my experience is that the little guys provide better value than the big boys ... again generally speaking ... and I for one want to provide my "financial encouragement" to this segment of the industry.

I feel this way about much of the electronics, too. While Plinius may not strictly qualify as a "little guy," it is compared to the behemoths like Krell and many others. Yet, NOBODY can touch the quality Plinius gives you in their new 8200 MkII integrated amp ... with phono stage, no less ... for about $3,000. No doubt, you'd have to spend double, triple, or even quadruple that to get close to the 8200 MkII's quality from anyone else out there.

FYI, no ... I'm not associated with Plinius, Bear Labs, or Jaap Gunter's Lieder Cables. I'm just an audiophile searching for that sonic nirvana ... like you ... and I'm willing to "name names."

A further FYI, of course cables are system dependent. Here's my system (minus cables):

*Plinius CD-LAD preamp
*Plinius Jarrah phono stage
*Denon DP59L 'table (heavily tweaked -- ask me about that if you want)
*Grado The Statement cartridge (thanks, John Grado!)
*Sony XA7ES CD Player
*Snell A Reference Tower speakers (terrific speakers!)
*Snell SUB 1800 subwoofer
*Hsu Research 250 watt sub amp
*API Powerwedge 14
*FIM AC outlets, coupled to dedicated AC lines
*homemade granite, wood, air, and sorbothane turntable base
*homemade record cleaning machine

I hope to see more comments on this thread ... thanks for sharing! Warmest regards to you all.
Little guys? How about rolling your own! Can't get much littler than that and the money you'll save!
I do not see it as big versus little. I do not care who makes the cable as long as it sounds good. In my system I have a combination of Monster Sigma, Homegrown Silver Lace, Electraglide, Harmonic Tech, Apogee, Vampire and Synergistic Research. A rather eclectic bunch from manufacturers of all stripes. Suprisingly though, my Monster Sigma II speaker cables have proved to be the most consistent long term performer in my system.
Little guys.
Dont forget Coincident
Little guy betered Wireworld Gold Eclipse III.
I had money left to buy music.about 100 extra cd's.
How the big guys get away with it?
Corupt reviewers is the resaon.
Ramstl- They hold there own too! Great homemade cables, oh wait that was cable you were referring to when you said roll your own-right?!?!? ;)
Roll your own upgrades sound in any system or live venue.My .02 cents and worth every penny!
Price point comparisions would be appropriate in this thread, and some of the above also leave out the specific models involved - how can even broad (not to mention flawed!) conclusions be drawn here without this basic info?
Whatever sounds good. I have more little guys (MAS, Blue Circle, MillerSound), than big guys (Siltech, VanDenHul).
Just replaced Nordost SPM Reference with Stage III Concepts Emperor cables, a small company out of NY that makes incredible hand made cables with an outstanding trade-up policy. Their cables must be heard to be appreciated, just look at the quality craftmanship -

You just never know with cables, sometimes the more expensive and well reviewed brands are not necessarily the best for your system.

Best Regards,
Thorty, I looked up that stage3 website. Found it *very* interesting. Wonder how their phono cables sound...
Yes, the Stage III look pretty interesting. Would love to demo them sometime. But I do not consider a product line price range of $700 to a high of $4500 for an 8 foot pair of speaker cables a cheaper alternative to Nordost.
Bowbow, I have been purchasing Tice interconnects. George Tice is selling them direct at a BIG discount. I purchased two-1.5m pairs for $137.50 per pair. It's a *very* good interconnect. I wish I could afford a few more pairs...
You guys should check out the Emperor series interconnects or the Monument series. The Emperor are sooooo good for the money its unreal, the monument are better but at a cost of course :)

I cannot swing their big speaker cables but I can tell you that for the money the affordable Stage 3 cables are a tough act to follow. They are just quality, plain and simple.

I just made DIY silver speaker cables in teflon tubing, twisted every three inches and taped with an unusual method on each twist (the twist can't move). I used pure dead soft 16ga. silver from Hoover & Strong and I can't believe what I am hearing. They are simply unbelievable.

Bob Crump gave me feedback on how to construct these cables and I must say, I am blown away. I have taken them out and have them cooking per Bob's advice to see f there is a discernable difference. But if they are any better after cooking, it will just be icing on the cake.

And Chris, I am looking for a used Berning ZH270 after the "shoot-out" thread. And I appreciate your email about your upcoming plans for the next one. I am anxious to hear about the Berning, Atma-Sphere shoot-out.


Aloha Warren, I am anxious as well to hear the Atmaspheres along side the Berning. I will keep you posted :)