interconnects are more important in my system than speaker cables are
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Cabling is about synergy. This does not mean necessarily using all one brand. It means making connections which bring out the best in each component individually to get the most cohesive sonic presentation. Try out as many as your patience will allow. Many higher end audio dealers, along with the Cable Company (usedcable.com) have loaner programs. The Cable Company will also provide expert advice. Make sure you have a female pair of ears, they hear sounds different than men (sometimes they don't hear sounds at all). I have been through so many cables in search of the "right" sound, as many of us have. Here's my extra 2 cents; I find that smaller companies which have 1 or 2 levels of performance to be great values. They put all their energy into a design and then use the highest quality parts available. They're harder to find because little/no money goes into magazine marketing, thus prices stay reasonable. I will mention 2 companies I favor, not because they will be right ones for you, but
because they represent performance/dollar value: BEL and Dimarzio. It's possible you've never hear them or of them. There are others. I suggest you seek them out and compare them against the big boys (kimber, cardas, mit, transparent, etc). Happy hunting! Just my 4 cents.
Generally, speaker cables are more expensive than interconnects, unless you have a system with very short speaker cables and very long interconnects.
Expect to spend more for the item which has the longer runs, which are typically the speaker cables.
I am affiliated with Starsound Technologies, manufacturer of Sonoran A/V Wire Designs.
i agree with uppermifi....however to get the best out of your source,pre, and amps you do need deecent interonnects and speaker cable and now powercables.
there are some hidden gems in regards to interconnects and speaker cables (used) that have a very strong price to performance ratio
much to my dismay..most interconnects/ speaker cables dont get good till you hit the $600 (new retail) price point for interconnects and $1000 ( 8 foot pair- new retail) for speaker cables.
your most cost savings will be buying used....cable markup is very high and the cable depreciation is very quick. i have yet to hear a killer budget cable ( may someone please prove me wrong on this one )
so the used market is the way to go. however the drawback to used is finding out what works best in your system.
since you are obviously looking to upgrade the sound...what are you looking for ? more bass, resolution, imaging. warmth ..etc ?
that is the real key question- what you may have can improved only by changing one set of interconnects ( the one between the cd to pre is most cruical, then pre to amp, speaker cables, then power cords).
i dont know if you have upgraded your pc's but they do make a difference ( i heard a huge difference wih the very inexpensive wireworld aurora with my api powerwedge- made a believer out of me)- that is my new tweaking path.
also, can you utilize ( keep any exisiting speaker cable / interconnects ?
i have seen too many of my audiophile friends choose to "upgrade" only to downgrade from what they have.....( i admit i have this a couple of times myself)
here is a example of my cable budget that is in my current system ( alll used prices)...btw, i have 4 monoblocs and bi-wired alon speakers (speaker cable combo for the alons was very challenging - they are meant to wired with alon black orpeaus speaker cable)
discovery essence $325
xlo signiture $225
straight wire cresen $390
total $940 ( used.. would be $2250 new)
Mit plus s3 (top) $325
Van den hul revolution (bottom) $225
total $550 ( would be $1750 new)
power cords ( still auditioning)
will probley go chris van haus or wireworld @ $900 ( est)
that brings you up to a total of $2400
( i kinda have a unique situation with addional set of interconects and 2 additional power cords....i am going the least amount i can on the power cords)
hope this all helps !!
You can spend the rest of your life mixing and matching cables. Unless you have some type of constant in the system i.e. a given point of reference, you'll always be playing one type of colouration off of another. In order to minimize this, you have to try to minimize the colourations based upon known and very specific operating conditions and then work from there.
Taking all of that into consideration, there are a few factors that we are already aware of. Input and output impedance varies drastically from any given component to component interphase. No two different components will mate identically or require a feedline ( interconnect ) of the same nominal impedance for this reason. This makes inteconnect selection between two mating components a very specific situation and not open to universal interpretation. Having said that, applying some of what we know about cables carrying audio based signals CAN be applied universally. That is, low series resistance, minimal dielectric absorption, reduced skin effect, consistent signal path length, etc... should all be considered as "standard features" of any given cable. As such, cables using low grade dielectrics or break other "common rules" should be avoided right off the bat.
Given that the parameters involved with the amplifier / speaker interphase remain relatively similar from system to system, we are better off starting here. That is because we already have a pretty reasonable idea of what the output impedance of the amp is going to be ( typically 1 ohm or less ) and what the nominal impedance of the speaker is ( typically 10 ohms or less ). As such, it would only make sense to use the speaker cables as the "cable constant" within the system given the lack of variables from system to system involved.
Taking into account all of the various factors involved with speaker cabling i.e. skin effect, consistency of the signal path, strand jumping, nominal impedance, series resistance, dielectric absorption, linearity over a wide bandwidth, etc... your choices become narrower and narrower as each specific trait or characteristic is examined. That is good though, as it makes it easier to sort through the pretenders that bring their own colourations with them and the true "kings of transparency".
In order to make things simpler, let's look at the electrical characteristics involved one at a time and break things down step by step in an easy to understand fashion. In order to keep this post of reasonable length without repeating the same things over and over, take a look at this thread pertaining to speaker cable design and linearity over at AA. There are a few posts that i've made there that go into specifics.
By using one reference cable within the system that all the signal must pass through, and we can electrically prove this cable to be low in colouration / self induced signal degradation, we've made things a LOT easier on ourselves. Not only have we taken a step towards improved system linearity, but we are no longer playing one colouration from one cable off of another cable to try to balance things out. By keeping the speaker cable as linear or "electrically transparent" as we can, we get a better view of what the other equipment / cabling auditioned within that system is contributing. If you alter one component / cable at a time, you get to see what those contributions are on an individual basis. Not only is this a far more logical approach, it typically ends up in a far more cohesive presentation with a lot less guess-work involved. System building now has a plan of attack with known specifics. Now you can more easily identify other goals or traits within the system that are desirable / undesirable and weed things out.
With all of that in mind, it is quite possible that you might not "prefer" a linear set of speaker cables. Due to poor design of your speakers, your amplifier or the fact that they are not a good match for each other electrically, it is quite possible that an "electrically neutral" or "sonically invisible" speaker cable reveals these flaws. In such a case, don't shoot the messenger just for bringing you the bad news. You can either go about things the "right" way and correct the situation by replacing poorly designed components OR "band-aid" the situation by discarding the neutral cables and using cables of lesser pedigree to add their own sonic colourations. That choice is obviously up to you. As we've seen in these forums more often than not, most "audiophiles" choose the second route because they don't know how to go about the first, more logical path.
The bottom line is that you want something that sounds good to you. If you can do that, more power to you. If you can do it while maintaining high levels of linearity aka "accuracy", all the better. Sean
Uppermidfi, I didn't say to use no cables. Just scrounge around and I am sure you can find a bunch of perfectly good cables from years gone by just lying around the house or ask a friend. You would be amazed what you can find and with a little imagination a cable will sound just the way you want it to.
First determine the cable that will match your system,
then allocate the money without compromising the other
too much,balance decision is the key here.I normally
like to get the most, out it in the source, then pre
amp, then amp.If the budget is tight.I believe you should
try differrent brand of cables,With your budget,TG audio,
Luminous audio cables, and Audience, AZ,HT, you will
be able to achieve good result.Remember it takes time to
audition,Cable company will loan you, but its more
expensive, than Agon price.
Uppermidfi, great, nice to know you hear a difference. Great to know that a major advancement in sound reproduction is cable "technology". Who cares what other people think, right? You hear all those great improvements; I hear no difference. It's all the same. You're right, I'm right and so is my uncle. It's all a game, right? Strange, a dealer who sells some pretty decent brands told me how fed up he was with people coming in his store with all these fancy notions about cables. Why he confided in me, I don't know. Now my curiosity is really piqued and I would like to send in a cable believer to see if he'll go along with him also. What a game, eh. Ain't life grand? Come on, Happy Valentines Day.
pbb....in looking at your system, i am surprised you dont hear a differnce in cables.
have you ever auditioned mutlipe speaker cables/interconnects (ie had the opportunity to totally rewire your whole system with some well regarded cables ? $350 & up for interconnects and $750 and up for speaker cable)
if so..... and your system didnt sounder different to you( for the better or for the worse), then something is more than likely amiss with your system or something else......
Sean I know you know the answer, but I will give you
my best shot,I have been in this hobby for fifteen years.
In my experience this is How I determine or figure out
which cable will match my system.
My system is Andra Eggletons speaker, Extreme monos stratos.
Sony 9000es Mod by Dan Wright.My system is very revealing.
1) I will choose copper with rich full sounding characterstis.In my case I will think of audience cable, cardas,Tara lab,
2) All silver wont be a good choice here.
If one cable upset the balance of other cable,dont stop
there,continue fine tuning the system,until you get
the right combination.Sean you know and I know this
is hard work, and very frustrating at times.Its
trial and error.I wont be surprise,If the system got
too dark sounding,I might mix a silver in between the
preamp and amp, or maybe I will put it in the source.
Sean thru experience, and familiarity of our system,
you will have a good idea which direction to choose.
Or if not sure ask the expert here at Agon.Read some
post here about cable.But it require experience and
auditioning every cable that are available.As you know
I spend time at Van L and bringing cables home.
This are the ff. I have auditioned.
AZ,HT, Audience,I own Siltechcs,Tara Lab,VD Nite,
TG audio,Costum power cord model eleven and top gun,
I own Luminous audio Synchestra sig,Kimbers, Marigos,
I heard them at John store.I own Pure Note,I own AQ
Lapis,opal,and some cardas,I heard most of the AQ cable
also the old one,Dragon,diamond,sterling,I own argent,
and sold the midnight.I heard the Nordost also,the golmund,
transparent, MIT I use to own one,I own a didgital PAD,
I auditioned the synergistics,a lot more.the only reason
I want to post so I can share my humble experience with
cables.But Iam not expert like you.
Here's a brief but simple formula on how to achieve consistent results in system building. This procedure is known as "voicing a system". Most consumers and audio shops do not know or understand this concept, but those that have been around long enough know its value.
Let's say that you have a "typical" audiophile system with multiple sources. For instance, if your phono sounds warm and flat while your digital front end sounds thin and bright and your tuner is compressed and muddy, you will NEVER be able to get balanced sound out of the SYSTEM. You need to set up each source so that they share similar sonic attributes and THEN alter the cabling that operates the "backbone" of the system from there.
Since it is not abnormal for different sources to have different sonic attributes, you may end up with quite different cabling for each of them. This is why "voicing" each individual source to have similar sonics to the others in the system is very important. Otherwise, one will run into problems achieving consistent results from source to source or even recording to recording. Once you've got this done, we move onto the backbone cabling.
By backbone, i'm talking about the cabling that feeds from your preamp to amp and then from amp to speakers. If the sources all sound similar but the entire system is still not exactly what you're looking for, you can then play with the "backbone" components & cabling as they will affect the SYSTEM as a whole. This will allow you to have balanced sound (or the specific sound that you seek) from each and every source through-out the entire system.
As i've mentioned before, i choose to select speaker cables first as the electrical characteristics that we are dealing with there are pretty well known and reasonably consistent from system to system. As such, cables that are "electrically transparent" and introduce the least amount of electrical and sonic degradation should be your first choice. From there, altering the performance of the entire system would be left up to the cabling between the amp and preamp since you've already gotten the "voice" of the system dialed in via source cabling and speaker cabling. Since EVERYTHING in the system must pass through this cable, regardless of how many sources you have, you really need to choose wisely here.
Obviously, most of this is trial and error due to various impedances and loading characteristics from component to component. That is why i've stressed selecting speaker cables as a constant, as the characteristics in this part of the system are relatively universal. After all, if you have no constant's within the system, all you have are variables and that can get WAY too confusing.
Hope this helps. I know it is a bit "generic" in scope, but NOBODY can tell you what interconnect will work best in any part of your system. Sean
El: That is a completely backwards approach that creates as many problems as it solves. I am NOT recommending cables as a tone control so much as i am striving to achieve a high level of linearity throughout the entire system, from start to finish. Cables that allow the signal to pass through with the least amount of harm are obviously the most linear. The only time that "flavoured cables" would come into play would be if the components selected were not up to snuff or if personal preference dictated their use. This is why i've repeatedly tried to stress that the system is only as strong as its' weakest link. If it has a weak link, you'll end up having to band-aid it. In most cases, the band-aid itself introduces even further problems, giving you even more to deal with than if you had just addressed the faulty device to begin with.
Having said that, EQ's can alter tonal characteristics for the better, but they can do nothing about transient linearity. In fact, they typically destroy transient linearity due to all of the phase shifts involved with the filtering necessary to achieve the desired results. If one has a system that is that far out of kilter that it requires an EQ for tonal balance adjustments, they have either chosen very poor gear that doesn't mate well together, have a very poor room / speaker interphase or a combo of the above. The only other alternative is that they have very specific system preferences that they place of higher value than that of relatively natural sound reproduction. If the latter is the case, they probably aren't worried about "audiophile quality reproduction" or reading these forums. Sean
Sean...My four word comment was intended to highlight, by contrast, the complexity of your solution to the problem. Maybe poke a little fun at it :) Most cable-ophiles do cite tonal balance as their objective.
I don't think that equalizers quite deserve their bad rap. Few if any recordings have escaped equalization during the mastering process, so I have trouble getting upset about one more pass through an equalizer. Also, in my experience the greatest benefit of an equalizer is that after you diddle with it for a while you can convince yourself that the original tonal balance was OK after all, so you set it flat, or switch it out. But the doubts are gone.
By looking at your system, Audience cable will be
my first choice, very neutral cable, I have
heard,the maestro might work, the AU24 is even better.
.I tried the blue heaven, I think they are
on the lean side,and bright side.The red dawn are
way much better.
Second choice will be TG audio
Third choice Luminous Audio.