What do you mean by "better" when it comes to cabl

I have read a number of posts here and on other sites regarding cables being good or better or great or whatever. Once you use a pure copper or silver conductor, wrap it in a decent, effective insulator and terminate with quality RCA connectors, then what is it that an audiophile is looking for the cable to do? In other words, how does it become "better". Is it a matter of adding colorations. Or are people suggesting that there is some signal loss over 1 meter which degrades the sound and can be restored through better cable. and how does that restoration occur, or is it simply a matter of reducing loss. Is the cable being used as a tone control? an equalizer? Are we trying to achieve something more than what a preamp or component is putting out in the first place.
I am not in the camp that claims that cables dont make a difference, because I have heard a change in my system with a different cable, but it wasnt something strong enough for me to even articulate the change accurately. It sounded "better" but I dont know how or why. what is it that the better cable is supposed to do?
"Better" cables are in the ear of the beholder, it cannot be quantified. Just like "better" beer cannot be quantified. "Better" is a subjective term that is widely over-used.

Just as those that post threads on these forums asking for the "Best" X. Most everyone here knows that there is no "Best". It's just an rookie mistake, don't get worked up about it.
better means one cable is preferred over another.

if you set up (arbitrary) criteria, you can relate better to the established criteria.
It's "better" if it complements your equipment.Depending on what they are made of,the inductance,capacitance,etc.varies from one cable to the next.One will bring out the best in your equipment and another will not.

I found this somewhere and saved it in notepad. I do not recall where I read it.

What better means:

[Better means deeper, more clearly defined soundstage, it means cleaner/more distinct overall presentation - more easily heard stereo separation, more solid L/C/R across the soundstage - with greater refinement of top frequencies clear down to the bass. It means improved macrodynamics such that it seems someone turned up the level when it has not been touched. These are the results in every instance. It also gives the sense that you are hearing into the piece more and increases the corporeality of the artist(s).]

These are some points that I personally use when I evaluate and critically listen to equipment or music I wish to own.
A lot of it starts with good system building first, e.g. properly matched components to begin with. When this is done first, then folks, by definition at this point, are IMO simply concerned with just finding decent wiring that can truly do the job while doing the least amount of harm in the process. But, if you start with a system that has been built with mismatched components, then you are likely 'stuck' on the unending treadmill of looking for wiring that will act as an equalizer of sorts. This can be a bit like looking for the needle in a haystack since often no 2 systems are mismatched in quite the same way and there's usually no readily available guide for such a search regarding the particulars of your own situation. And since the common perception is that roughly about half the systems out there (if not more) are likely in some significant way mismatched, then it's no surprise that there are plenty of folks around trying to sell their own brand of what can be, in effect, hit-or-miss, band-aids...some of which can be, well, painfully expensive. Hope this helps a bit. Regards. John
BTW and FWIW, I agree with Mrtennis here in that better, in the end and for the very most part subjectively, simply means what you prefer. Objectively, it may mean the occasional repeatable measurements, such as timing delay or ringing or some other hard-and-fast parameter that can possibly be used to make a comparison. Note here that I'm talking about a repeatable measurement that can be done in, say, a lab...not so much simply a manufacturer's specification. But, the big problem with that is that if there is any such data, it can become too easy for the discussion of it to slip beyond what is routinely assotiated with them soundwise and cross into some twilight zone of hype, so you do have to kind of separate the 2 sometimes, or it can begin to be too much to wade through. Also, the better equipment you buy, the more difference 'better' cabling can make to one degree or another, but again, if you plan your system well, in almost every case it should not be necessary for the financial securing of the wiring to begin taking over the system, at least IMHO.

Good wiring is simply that which you, having tried it in your own system, can feel confident enough that it has let the best part of your system's sonic and musical potential come through. It may take you a few tries to get your bearings and make the gross-level kinds of comparisons, but even the mistakes you may make are bound to prove to be valuable to you. I know that may not sound all that exciting, but what I'm saying is you'll get there. But, when in doubt, experiment. Try something, even if it is just on a hunch. Lot's of audiophiles go to websites like the Cable Co. or Wireworld and try out their lending library for a small fee. That's a great way to begin finding your way around without getting soaked.
And I guess that is my question. Once you use a reasonably well made cable, that seems to provide the performance you accept, is more expensive cable "better" or just different. I understand the qualities Tom referenced, but I doubt doubling the price of a cable results in each of those parameters changing for the better. It just seems like an expensive way of chasing your tail.
Sometimes the more expensive mousetrap is better, but certainly not always. There comes a point, after you've hit on the right things and have 'allowed' rather than 'restored' the signal through the system and you begin to to feel rather confident about your substitutions and experiments enough that you are essentially getting the best sonically and musically from your system, then yes, you can reach the point at which you can feel reasonably sure you have maximized the value your system can have for you and that further experimenting may only show you that the law of diminishing returns will begin to apply and just start to drain your wallet more than providing you with an equivalently meaningful improvement. The "best" may mean for your system and your sonic goals. Beyond that may not be much of a priority, or at least it has not been for me. But, this hobby is loaded with similar ways of chasing your own tail. Some people have chased themselves into great systems that they had never thought they would ever own and others have chased themselves right out of the hobby altogether, due to burn out.

all we cable guys are saying, a better synergy exists within one's system.
As the first post stated, "better" is a subjective term.

My feeling is that a cable should not change the signal in any way. With that, the implication is that lesser cable has some impact on the signal and that "better" cable has less impact.

I too have heard differences in cables. Perhaps the differences I hear are due to different changes made to the signal by the different cables, or perhaps the difference is due to one cable having an impact and the other having no impact or less impact.

I don't know the science behind how cables impact the signal. Vaguely, I am aware that very long cabling can cause signal loss. Also, the inductance kind of impedance in a cable can result in high frequency losses. But I am willing to believe there can be a lot more involved. That's where I have to start believing in cable designers' ad claims. Like Cardas with his spiral cable configuration and materials selection, and AudioQuest when they used to make silver conductor cabling. (I know these two sound different.)

What is "better"? If I can hear a difference, I try to figure out which cable has done a better job transmitting without impacting the signal.
I guess for me, then, the best would be the one that doesnt do anything, and gets out of the way. That way when I try different cartridges, arms and tables, I dont have to adjust the cabling to "fix" the sound. this must drive people who keep changing their system batty, or at least, broke.
01-26-13: Manitunc
I guess for me, then, the best would be the one that doesnt do anything, and gets out of the way. That way when I try different cartridges, arms and tables, I dont have to adjust the cabling to "fix" the sound. this must drive people who keep changing their system batty, or at least, broke.

The cable that you desire, one that doesn't do anything, does not yet exist.....yet. It sounds like you prefer to tune your equipment around your cables, which is fine, there are plenty of ways to get to the same destination. However, choosing a table, arm or cartridge that best matches with you cables is not that much different than choosing cables that match your table, arm or cartridge.

Since the bottom line is putting together a system that sounds "best" to you, synergy is the key. Only you can choose what path you want to follow to lead you there. Maybe I am lazy, but for me it is easier to change cables than to change turntables, so I tend to tune the table/arm/cartridge to my tastes via cables. Yes, sometimes changing a cartridge requires me to change cables too. It's all about synergy, and for me that means balancing the resolution with the musicality to suit my own taste. Any change may require further changes down the line.

I have no problems with whatever floats your boat. I choose not to shut down any roads to my own sonic nirvana. If you'd prefer that some roads should not be taken, that's fine, I don't care. However, do not complain about others that choose to take a path that you wish not to. Allow others to enjoy themselves, they are not harming you.
Didnt think I was complaining, but read into my post what you will. Obviously you dont comprehend well, or I dont express well, because I dont tune equipment around cables. I care little for cables, as long as they seem to work, are decently manufactured and dont have an obvious undesireable effect. Perhaps you prefer to obsess otherwise, and that is certainly your right.
Why does every cable thread have to turn into a pissing contest for some folks?
Well if you use the same cables all the time then you are tuning your sound around your cables. Which is fine, if that's your game plan.

Like I said, I'm lazy, it's easier for me to buy, sell and change cables than to buy, sell and change tables/arms and even cartridges. I've only changed table/arms 3 times in 12 years. I've gone through about 8 cartridges in that time frame, but I can't even guess how many cables.
"Why does every cable thread have to turn into a pissing contest for some folks"

Because the very existence of a CABLE forum is a provocation!
Think of it, as in, I 'better' hear a difference after what I paid!!
****In other words, how does it become "better".****

1. It becomes better if, IN YOUR SYSTEM, the resulting sound brings you closer to the sound of live music. It is popular to dismiss this concept; but at the end of the day, precisely because there are so many variables, this is the only answer if the word "fidelity" is to have any real meaning.

Now, how does one determine what "closer to the sound of live" is; given how many variables there are? Answer: It's not easy, and it requires a commitment to listen to A LOT of live music; there is no shortcut. After a while, you will stop focusing on the usual variables; the audiophile stuff: one hall sounds this way or that, this engineer did this or that, my seat at the concert was at the back of the hall not the front, etc. You will start to recognize common threads: texture on a level that no recording can give you, dynamic nuance that makes very soft playing just as exciting as the loud stuff, a strong sense that what is making these sounds are humans not machines (emotion). If you put a new cable in your system, and it does more of that than a different cable, it's a better cable. Unless, what is truly more important to you is:

2. You want your system's sound to be a certain way. You simply happen to like a certain sound, and a particular cable makes it sound closer to that sound; regardless of wether it is closer to live or not. That's fine too, if that is what rocks your boat. A lot of the MUSIC is going to come through no matter what. But ....

LOTT: Kurt Elling "1619 Broadway". If you think you knew (and, like me, were a little tired of Sinatra's version) "Come Fly With Me", check out this version. Talk about different and hip. My favorite living male jazz singer. Well, Bennett, on a good day; but not too many, anymore.
Simple. The listeners prefers the sound with a particular cable. That's what most mean when they say it is "better".

Different wires might have different electrical properties that account for how they perform in a particular system. But these are not well defined or known, and there are certainly no commonly accepted standards that can be applied, so picking cables based on technical specs is laregely a crapshot, at least compared to amps, source gear, speakers. Also the differences among cables regarding sound in a particular rig may be significant, but generally less so than with the main components in teh system, which makes quantifying differences even harder in practice.

The value of certain aspects of cable design might be more apparent than others. THings like whether shielded or not (to protect against potential external sources of noise like EMI or RFI) and material used to construct the wire, for example, silver versus copper, each of which has well known electrical properties and differences that might directly translate to a different sonic signature in general. Gauge of the wire used is another that might be determined to deliver different relative sonic signatures in a somewhat predictable manner, but again truly quantifying these things is virtually impossible in practice. USe of network devices to affect the eletronic properties of the wire in a pre-designed manner is another design aspect that might deliver somewhat predictable results.

In the end, best to try/listen to a variety of inherent designs and decide what sounds or works best in each case.
Different does not mean better. Most audio lovers have some knowledge about differences in sound. But most are not capable to hear all the parts which are inmportant in a few seconds. I do consulting in sound and vision. I am in this business for 14 years. I started with equipment since I was 6. This is not my work, but a part of who I am. For me it is a lot more easy to hear differences. A freind of mine had a small concert room with a Steynway. It was a room for 65 people. Here I learned how small in dimension and how direct a voice and instrument sounds wenn it is not amplified. I see you use Classe old amps. I sold these amps for some years. Classe has a wide and deep stage and a warm sound as properties. But individual focus is not a strong point. This means you need cales which can give you a sharper focus. Brands like Audioquest and Kimber are good at giving a sharper image. The biggest problem most clients of mine have is wenn they are not happy about one part in there set. they focus only to this problem. Tehen they often forget the rest. Many times wenn they solved this problem ( for example tighter and more detailed low freq.) they get another new problem. A cable can make a big difference in sound, resolution, focus, depth and air around voices and instruments. You have to know about all these parts what changes. What I do for my clients is using a number they know very well. Then I focus on only 1 part. Later i take antother part and so on. So I make it more easy for them to understand about the changes of the different cables.
Whatever the reviewers say and oh yeah more expensive is Always better