What's your investment threshold?


This question only goes out to those like myself who enjoy the system gains running better cables bring.  Non-believers can save their money and comments for another thread.

Do you impose on yourself a percentage range for cable spending relative to other components?

Speaking for myself, I do consider cables to be a component decision worthy of budget, but I seem to have stayed in the 10-30% range of what I've spent on other components.  I can't see spending $1k for a cable on a $1k component for example.  I have spent $1,500 for speaker cables for a $6k amp.  That seems nearer the high end of my range but it still fits. 

I realized I haven't planned this as a hard rule, but that's kind of how this has worked out for me over time.  Anyone out there think a much higher percentage is justified?  I won't argue because these improvements are worth all the enjoyment you can get, so more power to you.

jsm71
Cables are only part of the puzzle: room treatments, racks, footers, fuses, contact enhancers -- the list goes on.

For my system, cables are 22% of the cost of the entire system and other "tweaks" a further 29% i.e. over half of the cost of the system is in accessories 🤭
I use a Kimber KS1016 ($1,100) from my bought used $250 DAC to my ’tube buffer’ VAC Standard ($1,400 used)
So I am guilty as charged, of using a much more expensive cable than the electronics it is connected to.
On average though, my electronics have been in the $5,000 camp.

Years back I used to be in the 10% camp. That is 10% of the cost of equipment on cables.
If I include the power conditioners in the electronics and not the wire group, and my soon to arrive Magnepan 20.7 speakers.. I will be back in that 10% camp for total cost of IC.

I am resisting totally the power cord upgrade path beyond my Pangea powercords.
I used to be a non believer in powercords too. But bought a pile of Pangea years back and like them. I firmly resist any pressure to experiment further with powercords as a trap and a curse i have no interest in getting into. Ditto Duplex wall doohickeys.
I am totally at the final IC for my system for life.
I spent $7,000 on 5 pair of IC* and they will have to be it for good.
(4) pair of 1.5 meter Kimber KS1016, and one 7meter pair of Kimber KS1116. I still have a few Cardas Parsec in the system too.
(I have fancied a high end AES/EBU cord for a grand instead of the $39 one I now own... but that is only a fantasy so far.)

Speaker cables have been, and will remain Kimber 8TC.

I would say the 10% rule really is one to offer to newbies to have at least a starting point.
For everyone who is a savvy audiophile, the numbers can be ANYWHERE. From using the cheapest wires with a $100,000 system, to using the best wires with cheaper electronics. It can be anywhere. Since it is the sound/ end result, and not some 'theory' that is what matters.
I've never gone to the trouble of limiting, and therefore, quantifying cables as a percentage of system costs. I just buy what I think will work best. Doing a quick and dirty computation, cables come out to about 33% of total system costs. 

Add in the many cables I've boughten, it gets a lot worse, so I just factored in the contents of my present system. I don't regret it one bit.

All the best,
Nonoise
Do you impose on yourself a percentage range for cable spending relative to other components?

No. I don't crunch numbers, I listen to music.
That doesn't mean that there aren't cables that I can't afford, but I don't look at any system percentages when buying, only $$$ values.


I have spent $1,500 for speaker cables for a $6k amp.

Does $1,500 speaker cables count as compared to your amp, or your speakers, or both?
As far as cables go I pretty much always buy used and have learned there is probably less correlation to $$ and great sound then with other gear. Plenty of relatively speaking affordable cable can sound great in a suitable system. Also there are so many great deals on used cables its easy to buy and try and resell and try another. I have personally maxed out at $6-700 but for cables that retail anywhere  from $15-2500. And I have another one on the way, I must be sick or something :p
In my opinion, one should think about an audio system holistically. If you love it, the cost is not stressing you out and detracting from your life, and it looks and sounds the way you want for the music you listen to, it's all good.

This hobby is for my spirit. Laying down a hard rule puts a shadow over the whole endeavor, so I won't do that. I will, however, judge the cost/benefit for a component (and cables to me are components) too high and decide it's not worth it. Once I cross that personal threshold, I start to regret spending the money and feel like I've been taken, neither of which is a desirable outcome.

However, through this process I've come to learn that for me spending 100% of an electronic component's value is where the benefits really taper off. For example, I own an Arcam CDS27 CD player. The dealer who sold it to me insisted I have a "modest" system and therefore I should buy modest cables. He literally made threats in a joking way and also touted his decades of experience. However, I borrowed the cables he recommended and they didn't work for my ears. 

I finally ended up with a Nordost Tyr 2 RCA interconnect on the Arcam CD player. By trading in my old Heimdall, I was able to get into a 0.6 meter cable for $1,575, or about 100% of the cost of the player, and it sounds fantastic: natural, open, relaxed but also dynamic when it needs to be. Exactly what I wanted. If I'd settled on a lesser cable, the whole system never would have gotten "there" for me, so essentially it would have been wasted money. If I don't like how a system sounds or it's fatiguing, I tend to not even turn it on. 

I'm currently running the Tyr 2  interconnect with Kimber 8TC cables that I bought as a stop-gap because I was spending a lot of money at once, and while they are bit muddy, I like the tonal balance. I tried Heimdall 2 speaker cables and found they accented high frequencies too much and gave a kind of punchy, night club type of bass--that combination wore on me through extended listening sessions. So, I'm thinking of buying Kimber Monocle XL speaker cables and if that doesn't get me "there," looking for a used pair of Nordost Tyr 2 cables down the road. 

I know that with Nordost Heimdall 2 and Frey 2 make the most sense for my "modest" system, but it's really about what gets you there. As long as you can afford it. 

no hard and fast rule.....but the math ( retail to retail ) says I am at about 15% but in general cables have higher margins, so retail might be a good guide...and my power amps, which shall remain unamed to protect my recently acquired “ fanboy “ status....came supplied with a fairly high end silver cable with DBS powered by tge amplifier....hard to break out a value for those......

i also think my system composition drove much of the cost - monoblocks within a m of speakers but an 8 m xlr silver dbs reverse run from preamp to poweramp....

listening to a variety of brands has helped me and in general each of the three systems I am blessed to own are wired with significantly different cables.....
My last cable purchase was a set of five Audio Quest Silver Extremes for $500.       HCM had them as a new "close out" for 25% of list (list price was $400 each!). Sounds fine to my "golden" ears!
also important to consider resale value, as certain brands/models hold value very well for a long time, so willing to spend more for those, as ultimate cost is low...

Does $1,500 speaker cables count as compared to your amp, or your speakers, or both?

That's compared to the amp. I should have compared against the speakers.  I went back and compared all cables against all other components and I'm actually at about 25% cables vs. components.

I don't aim at these percentages, but I guess I have a sensibility filter that stays active.

I buy what sounds best in my Magico Q3 system price is less impotant to me.My goal is the best sound for my system of course i would not spend 25k on speaker cable etc.What ever you get enjoy!!
$99 for quality speaker hook-up (actually got away with spending only $50 instead)
$20...50 for each pair of interconnects (MAX)

I fully agree with ebm.  I buy the best i can afford.  I do not wish to limit the performance of my components by saving a few dollars on cables.  I consider cables as part of the unit they connect.

I avoid any manufacturer who expects you to buy their products on faith without revealing their construction or specifications.  These would be more marketing oriented. They have more cables in their product line than they can invent names for.  I look for a unified theme or approach for all the cables in a company's line.  They should be able to demonstrate why that design is superior to others.

I favor Analysis Plus who employ degreed engineers and avoid advertising hype.  I also use TARA Labs wide bandwidth designs.  Their construction techniques, materials, specifications and  are exemplary.   I have used TARA cables since 1998.  Their sound in my system is unsurpassed by anything else in my 55 year experience  as an audiophile. 
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jsm71, You call it an "investment" ????  Perhaps wife is reading  :)
Surely there's an underlying issue--or sense--of proportionality at work in much of this.  Perhaps--perhaps--plugging a 5K power cable into a 2.5K integrated would make it sing like never before, but then why not just buy a 6K integrated in the first place, and save some $$.  Ultimately, it all has to do with price-point scales within the different component categories.  What's the "right" percentage to drop on speaker cables driving, say,10K speakers.  1K? 2K? 3K?  Get much above that, and why not buy the next model up in the same speaker line, and run it with bang-for-the-buck cables.

jsm71, You call it an "investment" ???? Perhaps wife is reading :)

My wife is fully aware of my audio spending.  She doesn't share my hobby but knows it is important to me.  I've got a keeper.    
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+1 twoleftears - I fully agree if a cable price would bump you into the next component model up, that may be the better option.

In my case I'm at the top of my line for the components I use so cable pricing is a separate decision. 

I did pull the trigger for the top offering from Cerious Technologies just for the speaker cables.  CT only offers two lines, their value priced but very nice cables, and cost no object using all the skills the designer has, for those who like his approach and can spend more.  There are two long threads here, one for each of CT's offerings.

The speaker cables make the best impact of all the cable types I use and it is a wonderful contributor to my rig.  The rest are very fine cables on their own but I couldn't justify quadrupling the cost on those, despite a 100% trade up policy.  I do have a governor on my wallet.  LOL

I spent $650 on used Acoustic Zen Absolute ICs and another $650 on used Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun speaker cables.  It sounds crazy but they are non-perishable items.  Many years from now electronics might fail and  speakers will get worn out, but cables will stay and even hold the market value.
I think most of us here have a governor on our wallets, bur we also probably prioritize differently. It seems as if owning the "top of the line" product is a high priority for you.
None of my components are "top of the line", but I do own a couple of cables that are "top of the line" . Though to be honest, when buying, I never really consider where what is in that company's hierarchy.

Mainly I am prompted by finding a good price on what I am looking for.
I am talking about real price, not list price, and buying used is not a problem for me.

The ARC Ref 5SE preamp that I just bought, I waited 2 years to find one at "my" price.
No, the 5SE is not top of the line, but it is a very fine preamp, IMHO.
So while I do not play the percentages game, or the top of the line game, I am fine with playing the waiting game. We all have our methods.

Bob Grost at Cerious Technologies makes very fine cables, great bang for the buck. I have not heard any of his Matrix line yet, but I'm sure that I will one day. Enjoy!
I chose all my other equipment first using good but relatively inexpensive used cables, then I upgraded cables to the point where I was happy with the synergy of the system as a whole -- spending as little as possible to achieve that.  Whatever percentage that is, it is.  And I imagine this varies greatly among all of us here, so I think it's not useful or even appropriate to assign a dollar amount or percentage to it (within reason of course -- nobody should spend 90% of their budget on wires, but maybe anything south of 50% should be fair game especially if power cables are included).  At this point it becomes about where my best incremental dollar is spent as per @twoleftears above. 

@elizabeth I also begrudgingly know power cables make a big difference but just don't want to spend big $$$ there (I know this is irrational as I too have spent a lot on interconnects and speaker cables, but there it is).  I'm going to make my own with some good bulk cable (i.e. Oyaide, Furutech, DH Labs, etc.) and good connectors (Wattgate, etc.) since it really does seem quite easy even for an idiot like me.  My guess is for about the same cost as the Pangeas and not much time and effort I can have PCs that rival $1000+ brand name models.  Anyway...

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I have Audioquest WELs 8ft speaker wire and four power cords plus AQ Wind interconnect.

it is about 2x the retail of my speakers so it would appear my percentage lies around 35% of my system.

i didn’t plan it, just turned out that way
Precisely! jmcgrogan2

the ARC Ref5SE is a very fine pre-amp indeed. Nothing wrong w/ being a smart shopper. Happy Listening!
The basic premise of these being “investments” is wrong.   these are all expenses, not invest,ents
"+1 dfwhip "
so well said, almost poetic.
My system at 10k s/hand, cabless at 2k s/hand, but it's also about the number of components to be connected. For me is 3x IC's and speaker cables. S/hand offers me great value, components run in and realistic resale value. I generally buy to keep.
sdj888 - thank you, glad my comments resonated with you. 

Secondhand equipment is indeed a great option to consider when building a system. Besides being very cost effective, it also helps keep the high-end audio industry going because it helps fund another person's upgrades. My system is a mix of new and used. 
The basic premise of these being “investments” is wrong.   these are all expenses, not invest,ents

I disagree.  Per Wikipedia:  In general, to invest is to allocate money (or sometimes another resource, such as time) in the expectation of some benefit in the future. 

The expected benefit for a financial investment is money.  The expected benefit for an audio investment is improved sound.  I invest both money and time toward getting better sound.

I like this logic.  I invest in booze - my future benefit is to feel good.
I think you can't mention the used cable scene enough…I doubt I would have bought a solid silver Audioquest sp/dif cable for my DAC at full price, but found one (years ago now) for cheap on Ebay. Same with a lot of other cables I own bought at 50% or more off the list price, and all in pristine condition. 
My cables total about 30% of total system cost. Almost everything used or demo, so I don’t hunk it’s a fair comparison 30% seems like a lot but I follow my ears. They told me to buy  Nordost power cables after having bought Nordost ICs (Frey 1 and Heimdall 2) all round and speaker cables (they are acoustic zen holograms).  As long as I hear the difference and they fit within my mid-fi construct,  I’m there. So a $300 Nordost Vishnu and a $400 Frey IC and a $300 Heimdall 2 digital all connected to my $600 Marantz SA8004 CD player seems perfectly natural.   Yes, it’s a disease. 
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