Your "Budget Cable" recommendations, please......

Hello all,

I'm formerly of the opinion that all of these expensive cables are a bunch of hocus pocus. Now I'm convinced that some are and some aren't. The only problem is...I don't know which are and which aren't.

I'm now ready to take the plunge and buy some better cables. Don't get me wrong, I'm still not prepared to spend huge $$$ on the stuff, but I'd like to at least get something that is noticably better.

Here's my system:

CDP = Ah Tjoeb '99
Pre = Forte Model 2
Amp = Forte Model 4
Spk = Magnepan 1.6/QR (should arrive next week!)

I'm currently using some old MIT Terminator 4 RCAs and Monster Z2 Bi-wire speaker cables.

I was thinking about Nordost SuperFlatline Gold speaker cables and maybe some Blue Heaven RCAs. It seems as though Nordost is fairly well respected and is probably not complete hocus pocus.

I need your help...Please!! I don't have time to go out and "listen" to interconnects and I don't want to walk blindly into this.

Thanks so much!
I would go to and order their Belden 89259 criss crossed speaker cables, and if you need interconnects try their Type 2 interconnect. You won't find better for the money IMHO. talk to Wayne as he is a very nice man and will set you up with whatever you are looking for.
is to go with a full DH Labs set up. Get Q-10 speaker cable (bi-wired) and Air Matrix interconnects. I've tried LOTS of cables (including really expensive Transparents) and I've settled on the DH Labs. Sound is fabulous. Lots of air around the instruments. Extremely tight and full bass from the Q-10. I've found that there's a certain synergy that exists between speaker cable and ICs from the same company. Whatever you go with, I'd recommend that all cabling be from the same manufacturer.

In addition to the DH Labs cables, my rig is:

Cary CD 303/200
Musical Fidelity A3cr preamp
Musical Fidelity A300cr power amp (225 wpc)
Nakamichi DR-8 tape deck
B&W N804 speakers (bi-wired)
Sound Anchors stands
Rotel RLC-900 AC Line Conditioner
PS Audio Ultimate Outlet (high current)
Harmonic Technology Pro-11 AC power cords

Also check out Audioquest Coral which is a great sounding cable for the money ($130 1m pair).
I was going to suggest some of the discontinued Audioquest cables. Ruby is about in line with the Coral and can be had for $50 for a 1 meter pair. Quartz and Opal are really very good and would probably be the choice for your system. You should be able to get these in under $100 (even $80-85) for a pair. Every now and then I see an emerald at $100 a pair. This is really a great cable, and for some applications I actually like it a bit better than the Lapis. I use Lapis in my reference system and a combination of Emerald and other cables in my family room system.
The Blue Heaven are a nice cable for what they cost. I personally do not care for those Super Flatline speaker cables.

Check the demo/clearance page at Audio Advisor. They always have some nice stuff there and they have a 30 day trial period to return it. They also have good prices on new Audioquest, Straightwire, XLO, Cardas, Kimber, Wireworld and Analysis Plus. The clearance link is:

What looks good on clearance is:
12 ft pair Audioquest Slate (the new version) $199.
8 ft pair Audioquest CV-4 $119.
8 ft Kimber 8VS $119.
2 Meter Wireworld Atlantis III $199.
8 ft Wireworld Oasis III $149.

Also go to USEDCABLE.COM and take your pick. Huge selection, and I think they have a demo/return policy also. The link is:

Thanks all. Anybody else have feedback about/experience with the Nordost SuperFlatline stuff?

Keep it coming. I'm making a list.

Kimber Hero ... I went from MIT Terminator 4s to hero between my MSB Link III and Classe CAP-150. There was so much more "there" there that it was startling at first. I've seen them around for about $100 / meter pair used ... and even in the mid 100s new they are a sonic steal IMHO.
HomeGrownAudio Super Silver interconnects offer a lot of value: all-silver wire with excellent RCA jacks, and a very reasonable price if you buy the kits ($60 for 1-meter with RCA's) and do your own soldering. For more info, go to:
Mapleshade....all the way.I was skeptical.Bought their Golden double Helix spkr cable and their digital cable.All I can say is HOLY CRAP.These things are fantastic.After using MIT,Transparent,Acoustic Zen and Monster,I figured what the hell.I can return them if I don't like them and they are cheap!!!! I can honestly say that after 3 years of monkeying around with this cable,that cable,my search for cables has now ended.I don't even look at the cable ads on the Gon anymore.

CJ Prem 12 monos
Thiel 2.3 speakers
Theta digital DAC and Trans
Dan: Whatever you try, I would focus the search on cables with a reputation for deep bass response (as well as sounding nice throughout the rest of the spectrum of course:-). Even if they have full but "somewhat" loose bass they may still work fine with the Maggie's, which are very tight in this region. All of your equipment is considered to be neutral to light in the bass (depends on one's frame of reference) and I feel that this approach may give you better sound. Nothing wrong with the gear (the Forte should push the Maggie's nicely), just saying that this is the basic plan that I would follow in your case as synergy is everything. Unfortunately I do not have any recommendations in what seems to be your price range, but am certain that others will, who have tried more cables than I. Even if your gear has captive power cords, you might also look into upgrading these @ some point. Nothing expensive, but something that will not limit current (maybe the DIY power cords noted @ Audioasylum based on Mr. Crump's design). Subaguru (@ this site) has also made some DIY PC's (power cords) lately that he feels are nice. The power cords will also add to the bass in your system, from my experience.
analysis plus
Thanks Dekay. That's some of the most thoughtful and specific advice I've ever gotten.

So....Can any of you recommend a cable that provides nice solid, tight bass. Bear in mind that I'll be in need of interconnects and speaker cables.

Does the Nordost line meet this criteria?

Thanks again.
I agree with Dekay's comments completely. Owning several different Forte' amps, feeding them with a tubed dac and knowing what Maggies sound like and will do, i will take his comments one step further: I would NOT recommend using Nordost speaker cables for this system.

While sounding very fast, sharp and clean, the Nordost speaker cables do not have much in the way of body or warmth. What bass that they do pass along IS well controlled, but that is easy because there's not as much TO control. Since Maggies tend to be somewhat lean sounding and lack bass "weight" to begin with, i think that the Nordost's might give you "too much of a good thing". You would probably have phenomenal speed, detail and clarity with the Nordost's in the system, but it just wouldn't sound "musical". I can't comment on the Nordost interconnects, as i have never used any of them.

My suggestion for speaker cables in your specific system is to look for some Goertz MI-2's. You WILL need to run Zobel networks with your amp or it WILL oscillate. Do not let this put you off as there is nothing hard about hooking them up. The Goertz are notably fuller sounding than the Nordost's and present a "creamier", more "romantic" sound but are not quite as "focused" or "etched" sounding. The Goertz also seem to have slightly better "prat" in my opinion. That is, so long as the system is not bass heavy to start off with. I have no doubt in my mind that a "slow" or "muddy" sounding system would be better suited to the Nordost's.

As to interconnects, your biggest bang for the buck is going to be the DIY or "kit" approach. I know that you might not initially want to go this route, but i would HIGHLY encourage it. This will keep a GOB of money in your pocket and show you what good cables can do. Once you make the initial investment in a "reasonable" solder station and supplies, you'll be able to ( and want to ) put it to other uses. The power cords that Dekay mentions would be a candidate for "projects" that you can do to improve the system AND save money overall.

If it were my system and i was "cable skeptical", i would start off with the Homegrown Super Silver's that Scott mentioned. These would be used between the tubed CDP and your preamp. My experience is that the very detailed sound of silver highlights the very plush sound of tubes. I know that others have echoed similar thoughts both here and at AA, so i am not alone in those findings.

As to what to run between the preamp and amp, you might want to try building or buying some of Jon Risch's "SSTP" ( Solid Stranded Twisted Pair ) design. This cable is quite phenomenal when properly constructed and literally destroys FAR more expensive cables in direct comparisons. It is based on using the copper and teflon cores of Belden 89248 / 89259 coaxial cables. These sound very lucid and transparent when built using quality connectors and good solder. I would make up an extra pair of these so that you could compare them to the Super Silver's between the CDP and Pre just to see what you like best.

Here's a brief overview of how things came together in my mind: You would start off with the warm and smooth sound from the tubed AH Tjoeb CDP. All of the details would preserved and highlighted by the Super Silver interconnect to the Forte' 2 preamp. That signal would then be fed as neutrally as possible via JR's "SSTP" 89259 / 89248 interconnect to the Forte' 4 Class A power amp. The amp would load into the slightly warm and full bodied Goertz cables. Those in turn would tend to balance out the fast and airy yet somewhat lean sounding Maggie's.

The end result SHOULD be quite excellent and present a very well balanced package. My guess is that you might even call the end result "magic", especially given the cost of the system. This takes into account that you will have "fussed" with speaker placement to the Nth degree.

Keep in mind that this is simply my personal opinion, approach and suggestion for your specific system based on monetary considerations. All of the cables suggested are recommended on first hand experience in multiple yet quite varied systems. Obviously, everyone has different ideas, ears and personal preferences, so take everything ( including my suggestions ) with a grain of salt.

Last but not least, contact the Cable Company and see what they have to say. Tons of stuff available and very knowledgable. Sean
I have had good results with Kimber 8TC and Tara Labs Space & Time TFA Return speaker cables with my Magnepan MG1-Improved speakers driven by a Classe CA-150 amp. They are relatively inexpensive to begin with, and can often be found here on the AudiogoN site used. The Tara Labs cable can still be ordered new from The Cable Company. Cardas Quadlink 5C interconnect cables might work well with your equipment. They generally are regarded as having a slightly warm presentation with good bass extension. They are moderately priced as well.
I second the Mapleshade vote. I have their speaker cable and power cords too, replaced all my Kimber KCAG and 8TC and my AQ Lapis and Diamond. Fantastic stuff, and very reasonable.
Thanks for the thorough post Sean. I do have a couple of questions/thoughts.

I am THE WORST DIY'er. There's no possible way that I can make my own ICs. I like that I can buy a completed kit from homegrown cables. Seems like a VERY fair price, too. How would it be if I used two pair of Super Silvers? Or would that be too bright/forward to use between the amp and preamp?

Also, I'm not familiar with what you were referring to regarding Zobel networks. Again, I'm not handy in the least nor am I technically proficient. Are there any other cables that you might recommend that are a bit more "plug and play".

HCM audio (or has the Audioquest GR-8 cables available for a VERY reasonable price. They purport to offer a "smooth midrange" and "thunderous bass". Might this be a good way to go? They list for $300+ and I could snag a pair for around $100. Thoughts??

Thanks so much everybody.
Dan, I would like to publicly say that you should not put more weight in anything that i have to say as compared to anybody else. I'm sure that everyone contributing to this thread is offering very honest and sincere suggestions. There is NO guarantee that you will like the same sonic characteristics and presentation that i or anybody else have. I did try to paint a pretty detailed picture as to where i was coming from and how i was looking at things though, so you might have found this a little more helpful than some of the other posts.

None the less, you might have seen enough of my posts to know that i try to stress listening and finding out for yourself what you like within your own system. Nobody ( including myself ) can tell you what you like or is "best".

As to your questions, I am not familiar with the specific Audioquest cables that you mentioned. My basic experience with their speaker cables are that they are somewhat "flat" or "neutral" sounding. I also do not (typically) like the geometry of their cable designs from a technical standpoint. In terms of sonics, i would basically say that they are neither additive or subtractive to any great degree. While "neutrality" may be a sought after characteristic, i just don't get that "toe tappin" type of response from these cables. Nor am i hearing things that i've never heard before when they are in a system. As such, you can't call them "detailed" nor are they "musical". While i don't think that they are "highly flavoured", i also don't think that they are completely "transparent". As such, i don't consider them good or bad. They are simply "there".

With that in mind, their upper level cables might be good for someone with a truly balanced and complimentary combination of components, but they can come across as "bland" or "dull" in less than perfect pairings. Once again, personal preference and system synergy come into play "bigtime".

Out of curiosity, how long of a run of speaker cables do you need ? Keep in mind that you want to take into account a reasonable "bend radius" i.e. "extra length" for cables that might be solid ( rather than stranded ).

As to your doubled up run of silver interconnects, i can't say. As i mentioned, i looked at the system as a whole. Entering variables that i am not familiar with ( the various AQ products ) completely throws things for a loop.

As to your "DIY" situation, drop me an email. We might be able to work around that to a certain extent. Sean
I've found TG Audio cables by Bob Crump to be excellent and fairly priced.
dont waste your time with the homegrown super silvers...go straight to the silver lace...everybody seems to make that upgrade eventually and all are glad they did. I love my silver laces.