(1) The effect of cables -- as an improvement or conversely as a detriment-- to the audio performance in your rig is entirely system dependent .... full stop. There is no one-size-fits-all option.
(2) the effect(s) of cables as a potential improvement is an alchemy of ALL your cables together , Including the ICs and power cords. To parse out speaker cables by themselves as the potential definitive "silver bullet" is an incomplete or failed step.
(3) Without prejudice to the points above, and ignoring the simple fact that "jaw dropping improvement" is a highly biased anecdotal and personal value judgement at best ,; At either a $500 or capped $1,000 pricepoint, there are no "jaw dropping" improvements in available speaker cables, in the common sense general application of the term. I have never seen any product in this price strata that even approached a scintilla of that type of description. ... Improvement ..."yes". ....but "jaw-dropping".... never.
I have auditioned significant audio improvement by performing contenders , that are not subtle in the first part and certainly separate themselves from the pretenders (as a full ARRAY of IC, speaker, and power ) , but these were integral in crafting a system synergy in high-end audio systems with cable price-points to match in lock-step. Even these "high -end" cables would fail any long step approximation of "jaw-dropping" in the common sense term.
That term in terms of application to audio speaker cables is an audio unicorn proxy.
KLE Innovations gZero2 were the initial wake-up call - I then tansferred these to my AV system and got the gZero6 model.
I have tried their next version, but I didn't feel the the improvements attained over the gZero6 warranted the additional expense.
I found that these cables alone were equivelent to a component upgrade and have also tried the gZero2's on a very nice $50k Ayre based system, where they worked extremely well.
The gzero6's improve on the warmth, details, clarity, bass depth/control and image
One drawback - they require a long burn-in period - around 200 hours gets pretty close, but over 400 hours and they really start to show their prowess.
Hope that helps
The most impressive array of cables that I have seen and heard personally ( that comparison is a highly subjective one) was an all-NORDOST ODIN cable array on a $500,000 2-channel ultra high-end system (source, preamp, power amps and speakers )
Ka-Ching, ka-Ching....but WTF, it follows in tandem with what’s in front of it. The cables are the final link in setting up a system synergy overall that transmits the good, the bad, and the ugly produced in front of them. Garbage in, garbage out. It’s the electronics that serve to create some approximation of a slack-jawed audio experience, not the cables .
Cables can either perform well and certainly augment an audio system to attain peak performance, but they will never be the genesis by themselves of an "A-ha" moment. Poor cable selection generally can take away from peak performance, they don’t invoke a walk down the yellow brick road to The Emerald City in OZ .
i auditioned many cables for MY system (emphasis added ) and settled on an all- NORDOST FREY cable array (all of speaker, IC and power) as MY preferred choice AT THEIR PRICEPOINT (emphasis added again...) using the 10% of the system ex-cables guidelines .
Even though I reside in the "pro-cables ... yes, they do make a difference" camp in the senseless, boring, and pedantic anecdotal cable wars perpetrated by the forum trolls, , even I will agree that at a $500 pricepoint, the audio performance differences between Brand X versus Brand Y in speaker cables is minimal to nil if they are mass-marketed built with a generic run-of-the mill (cheap?) parts and assembly quality standard. The build quality of the cable connectors on a particular cable (e,g quality built all-Cu WBTs or the like) versus the cheap-as-you-make-them crap quality made-in-China plated Brass alloy ones, have an overall larger effect than the actual cable itself .
Particularly at that pricepoint, many brands simply don’t make their own cables but just order up mass-produced cheap kit from 3rd party suppliers. That’s where much of the snake oil acrimony in cables discussion starts.
In my experiences, the informal and anecdotal "10% of your gear suggested $$ outlay" price-point for cables will get you towards the system’s peak performance available strata .... that’s about as good as you can hope for.
At a suggested $500 price-point strata, the audio performance differences in choosing one cable over another is system dependent for sure, but the degree(s) of improvement are marginal to incremental at best and not any epic "jaw-dropping" step-up.
Did a single blind experiment with jazz loving neighbors. Mogami Sound Runner vs. Wireworld Eclipse.
Monoblock amps, Focal Profile speakers. Theta Casanova as the source.
I asked them to listen for imaging, midrange and treble. They could not see which cable was attached at any given time, and I did not mention brands or prices. Went back and forth a few times.
Results were really interesting:
We both agreed about the quality of the sound differences.
We disagreed about "better."
Mogami had a better, wider tonal balance. Wireworld had better imaging, and darker.
I preferred the better imaging, neighbors preferred the tonal balance.
Exactly like @nutty. Same configuration for speaker cable and jumper wires. Changes were as follows:
The sound stage is much wider.
The bass is extended.
Highs were extended without being harsh.
Mid range is are much cleaner and life like.
Higher gain in the system, meaning the loudspeaker played louder at the same volume settings.
Downside - the "looks" of the Clear Day cables are not as good as the ones that were replaced.
Another tip of the hat for Paul Laudati's Clear Day Double Shotguns. Jaw dropping? Not sure about that. But way better?? Definitely, yes. At least to my ears. Very happy with them (initially used; later new when I needed a longer run) based on use with several different amps and two different sets of speakers. Defining the improvement over the Opera Consonance Joplins I had been using - more musical might be most appropriate. I also have Morrow Audio SP-4 speaker cable. The SP-4s come across as more detailed but ultimately I've found myself going back to the Clear Days. Switching from the SP-4s to the Clear Days, I'm immediately struck by a certain "relaxed" rightness that returns to the music. As I wrote elsewhere, when I switched from the Joplins to Paul's wire, it was like the music put on 20 pounds of muscle...it became much more palpable. I'm not someone who claims to be able to hear differences brought about by every bat-fart tweak du jour. The effect of the Clear Days was unmistakable, however.
I realize belatedly the Clear Days fall below your price range. Sorry 'bout that. On the other hand, Paul does allow for a money back trial assuming you are using a standard length. Worth checking them out if you haven't and certainly before spending $800 or more. You might like 'em and save yourself some dough.
I have Clear Day double-shotgun with jumpers, as said they are very good and Paul is a great guy.
BUT, at least on Acoustic Music, Audio Art SC- S5e are better on my Totem
Sig1’s , Gallo 3.5. Rega RS-1 and Meadowlark Kestrel 2’s that I have compared them both on . Considerably better.
If I listened to rock the Clear Days might of been, I don’t know. Another factor is I use AA interconnects IC-3se
so there is synergy. Sounder better than 6 K worth of MIT if that’s any help .
Both were better than Morrow Sp-6 which is not bad .
At the $1,000 ceiling, I cast another anecdotal vote for Clear Day Cable, Double Shotgun. I used them between an EAR 890 (w/ Ei KT90's) driving some Vandersteen Quatro's, using two full runs for separated biwiring ($900 total in that config). They replaced some Cardas Golden Reference cables at the time, and I also demoed a pair of Morrow Audio SP7's. I never did cotton to the SP7's in my system - - they seemed really "mechanical" sounding to me. The Clear Days also bested some DIY VH Audio CHeLa cables that I labored to build.
The Clear Days really surprised me with how much better sounding they were, much equivalent to a component upgrade. Very coherent gestalt, imaged very well, detailed without crossing the line (in fact, seemed a tad warm - - surprising for silver?). My overall impression was of a clearer window into the music, harmonically, "visually", and dynamically. Their microdynamics "breath" better than the other cables I had tried.
I had to spend a crazy amount more to beat them. At this price strata, I would absolutely give them an audition try before deciding, as you've got nothing to lose. Paul is a real peach to deal with, too.
I agree with akg_ca 's comments regarding the Nordost line.
Yes, Odin is ridiculously priced, but it's for those systems we wish we could afford.
Conversely, my midfi,Heimdall2/fFreyII plumbed system sounds fantastic. If you're patient and check listings, Nordost can be had for half of retail cost used.
The biggest change I've ever heard with speaker cables, was when I double biwired my Vanderdteen. 2 sets of AQ Type 6's sounded much better than my $3800 Tara 2's.
Other than that, the best way to deal with cables is to properly match your components. Do that, and you won't want or need cables that make big differences.
For real low cost cables, Speltz Anticables consistently bested all that I tried until I bought some MG Audio Planus III copper ribbons. They moved the bar well beyond anything I had heard prior. I then bought some Amadi Maddie Signature cables that were better in most ways than the MG's. My final cables are the Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme. In my VMPS RM40 ribbon speakers, they are better in all ways than any I've had. The price of an 8 ft. pair is $649, and I bought 14" jumpers for an additional $80. The MG's were $1995, plus I had Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ cables that were $1595. The CTGE's have better transparency, fuller and better defined bass, airier highs, and the vocals were more lifelike. This wasn't a knock your socks off difference. Any of the last 3 cables I tried would have made me quite happy forever, had I not heard the others. You've got to love the forum write-ups--just like reading the audio rags for giving you the itch. I'm sure there are many others that sound wonderful, also, but at the price of the CTGE's or Amadi's ($600 for 8 ft. pair), I'm not so sure.
I have tried too many cables over the years to mention. I don't chase cables any longer now. I have had very expensive speaker cables $7K and one day in my system I tried a used $200 cable that was close and better for my budget. I have also brought an Adcom interconnect torn in to for a digital cable and it bested a very higher priced cable in another persons system. The same higher priced cable interconnects were better than what I was using at the time ( a good litz copper interconnect). So no conclusions about what works and does not work based on price for me, just see what works in your system.
I also agree with akg_that jaw dropping - well not a chance but I did place a component in my friends system and it was a night and day difference, and that has happened twice in his system. For some reason his system really hears the changes for the better and it was the most change/improvement I have heard in any system each time. Cannot explain why though.
I never believed the cable thing for years. then a friend of mine who owns an audio shop was trying out the Siltech line and asked me to give a few of the models a try I ended up buying the FT12 silver ribbon and I became a believer.. Dam it ! I've had them for years now very happy tried others and never thought to upgrade or side grade whatever. I like the Siltech silver/gold wires.
Canare 4s8. Balanced, dynamic, detailed, superb extension on both ends of the audio band. It lets your amp have the best grip on your speakers. Feels more powerful, punchier than cables twice as big. Details and harmonics come through like you would not believe... for less than $20 a 10ft pair, it is superb, and approved by many audiophiles as it has been sold throughout the years wrapped up under different brand names, at much much higher prices of course.
To aka-ca. Now that you have sufficiently schooled the membership in the art and science of selecting speaker cable. Let me respond:
I agree with your points 1) and 2)
On point three where you state...." THAT JAW DROPPING IMPROVEMENT is a highly biased anecdotal and personal value judgement. at best..." I can assure you that none of the psychological social adjectives you attached to the phrase "jaw dropping" were conjured up by me in the dead of night paging through either the Alchemist and Freudian dictionary, and then touching my nose and spinning around three times to select the word "jaw dropping" That was the best word I could think at the time, and there was no hidden second meaning implied. You seem to have a word sensitivity problem, or an exponent of the French School of linguistic deconstruction. You are over-parciing the context of the thread
Most members realize or know that the improvement offered by speaker cables costing between $500-1000 is only marginal, and that some improvement should be "probably" heard with a $1500 pair of speaker cables compared to a $500 pair of cables. However, that is not a given. In the same way, that a $5000 pair of speaker cables will not necessarily provide 3 and half times sound improvement over the $1500..speaker cables. That may be the first commandment of high-end audio: that incremental improvement of sound can not be necessarily attained doubling or tripling the buyer's outlay of money That may be true across the board for other audio components. Yet in the chart of price vs performance ratio, there are bumps along the way. For example, Clear Day Cable '"Double Shotgun" speaker cable is extraordinarily good value for the money, and that almost applies to Audio Art 5se cable( though, I happened to like the sound of the Clear Day cable which I auditioned at home, and owned the less expensive AA SC5 speaker cable.
Lastly, I think it would be informative and helpful if member Akg-ca before making what seems like "insider" power point proclamations, list his components, especially the cables used so we can understand and evaluate the level of his audio system
Thank you to other members who responded so far. SJ
I have found Silnote cables to Clearly be a cut above even well respected
Classic brands I first tried their Speaker cables .music just sounds more reAL.
Their Poseidon2 interconnects are Fantastic, I had Acoustic zenwave Silver ref
The Silnote run deeper into the performance. And come with a no risk warranty.
Find a way to budget for Nordost Heimdall 2, not just speaker cables but their interconnects as well. You could get by with Blue Heaven for rear surrounds but Heimdall worth the stretch. You will hear a HUGE difference. I have all Nordost including power cords. Previously I was running some high end Tera Labs but even friends of mine who are not audiophiles heard a significant bump as soon as I installed the speaker cables.
This is a little long so please bear with me. This is a tough call as many above have stated with their choices. Personal preference drives this, however there are differences that I've found but not what I'd consider jaw-dropping. I went through many different cables over the past years, and settled on ZU-Event's. After doing some other equipment changes, I started looking for tweaks. I always wondered what CHEAP cables or wire would do the job as well if not better than what I have. Well, I did some experimentation with my audiophile friend on purchasing CHEAP cabling. Long story short, I ended up with Audio Envy NV-SP5. ($248.00 for an 8-ft stereo-pair with bananas) It noticeably beat the Events in every respect. Low bass strong, timed and detailed, great life-like mid-range and crisp, clear treble. Soundstage was slightly improved from a width perspective but not depth, but instrument placement was a little better defined. The clincher... Female vocals sounded the most REAL that I'd ever heard on my system. For what it's worth, if you're looking to make a noticeable improvement in your system, consider your interconnects too. I was using the ZU-Events however in my CHEAP cable quest, I tried the Blue Jeans Cable LC-1. 1-meter RCA for $34.00 ! ! ! Yes that's right ! I bought a 16-ft pair since my amp is that far from the preamp. That cost me less than $100 ! ! ! Noticeable improvement over my ZU-Events in every category, and a really noticeable in lower mid-range/bass ! ! ! I believe it's due to the very low capacitance of that cable. This to me is the unbelievable BARGAIN interconnect of the century. All the cables above are good copper not silver, and do not have that treble edginess often found with some silver/copper hybrids. I replaced all of my interconnects with the Blue Jeans LC-1's and bought a complete set for my audiophile friend too ! The cost for all of my interconnects was under $300 for the whole system interconnects !
I also tried the Duelund 16-gauge hook-up wire for speaker cabling. The Duelund sounded really good, especially in the upper mid-range and treble. Basically, everything was there including great sound-stage, depth, detail and realness of the music and vocals. Where it was lacking was in the lower mid-range and bass. The notes were there, however I think with the 16-gauge, the bass notes were noticeably less robust than the other cables. In fact, I am thinking about experimenting with bi-wiring my speakers with the Duelund as the upper-mid/treble, and the Audio Envy as the lower mid-range/bass.
One other speaker cable I tried since I had great results with the Blue Jeans LC-1 interconnect was their Belden 5T00UP 10-gauge with the locking bananas. An 8-ft set with the locking bananas is $38.75 ! These are built well and I LOVE the locking bananas. You need two sets for two speakers, so the total is under $80.00 ! While it didn't have the micro-detail and soundstage depth/width of the other cables, if you're just starting out with stereo and/or are on a tight budget, this would be a great first set of cables along with the LC-1's ! The Belden 5T00UP would probably beat out most any other speaker cable at 3X the price.
With the cable choices above, I just can't see spending mega-bucks for cabling... Save your $5,000 cable allotment for a nice piece of equipment or room treatments ! Experiment !
OK... Enough said. I hope this all helps you. Regards... John
I agree with the common thread that it's a question with no definitive answer.
Too many variables: equipment, interconnects, acoustics, your personal sonic preferences and even whether or not you have an "ear" to hear the difference.
Like most longer responses, it's been a journey through equipment, interconnects, speakers and then speaker cables. For me personally I like the sonic signature of Yamaha combined with MIT from receiver and components to speaker. I use MIT MH 750 Shotgun's to a pr of Vandy 3A Sig's. for the most natural true to life sonic experience I've found.
If I could possibly do a flip a switch A to B from where I started to where I am now there would be an OMG never heard that moment.
Read all the reviews you can and pick something from main stream brands where people are describing what you want to hear in bass, details, sound stage, listenability, image, accuracy, etc.
best ever was Atlas Asimi speaker cable and interconect also asimi . but not in my acceptable price range, i never heard anything like that, in bass and tweeter regions. but price of calble is insane :(
and interconect i managed to get of Asimi line;)
next best is silver HGA x32.
tryied MIT and other cables on my tube rig and tannoy kensington GR speakers, and compared to any silver cable, copper wires always were dry ,dead sounding. so rule how much pay ,that you will get i believe is corect
If your system is "singing" at its best, then may I suggest (no I'll say urgently suggest) you try Townsend Isolda DCT Speaker Cables. www.townsendaudio.com from here in the UK. They are the best speaker cables I've ever used (and I have tried lots over the years) and when used with Townsend Seismic Podium Speaker Stands you will get a "jaw dropping difference"
The sound is dynamic, has dimension, with clean non boomy bass and is wonderfully relaxed.
With the dollar/pound exchange rate in your favour why not give them (both) a try. You will not be disappointed. BTW, I have no connection with Townsend -- well only my Avalon Eidolon Diamonds.
I've experimented with cables over the years, and have come to the same conclusion that the founder of Monster Cable finally fessed up to: expensive cables are a gimmick conjured up by marketers who figured out that audiophiles will pay a lot of money - even an insane amount of money - for wire (those with wife problems need look no farther than what can be wasted on speaker wire). IMHO, the discussion around interconnects are akin to a theological cult.
Unless they are are really cheap wire bought at a hardware store, it's not gonna amount to a hill of beans. The Meineke muffler slogan applies here: "I'm not gonna pay a lot for this speaker (interconnect, etc) cable!"