Have you found that cable upgrades make a difference in your system?

Dan Rust's picture
Reader Dan Rust decides to rip open the can o' worms about audiophiles spending extra bucks on the wire in their systems. We're curious about your experiences: How important are speaker-cable and interconnect upgrades to you?
Have you found that cable upgrades make a difference in your system?
Yes, big difference
31% (93 votes)
Yes, worthy difference
38% (115 votes)
Yes, subtle difference
18% (54 votes)
No, waste of dough
10% (31 votes)
Haven't upgraded yet
2% (6 votes)
Total votes: 299
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Comments
Unknown hi-fi freak in Sweden's picture

I have noticed a big difference in my system when I change cables. I think it is necessary to have good cables.

Julian I.  Spring's picture

To me, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Upgrading your interconnect and cable is the most inexpensive way to get better performance out of your system.

Anonymous's picture

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R.  Willis's picture

I caught the bug and upgraded almost every component in my system. My interconnects went from RadioSchack standard to MIT. By itself, that was as obvious an improvement as any new component.

Jeremy Karpenske's picture

Being a college student, I can't afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on wire alone, but I have found that there is quite a noticeable difference between the standard "hardware store" speaker wire and Kimber Kable's least expensive wire, the 4PR. I say, if you have the money, it's worth the investment. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link!

Anonymous's picture

As an enthusiast and former salesperson, I would come across that question regularly. The easiest way of proving the value was to use in-home trials of various-quality cables. It had the effect of converting a great number of people from being curious as to whether or not there was a difference, to what differences they might get from using different brands/designs.

Jason Crickmer's picture

It doesn't take much to hear the differences . . . I remember trying a couple different cables a few years back, and my roommate just happened to walk in. I told him what I was doing, and he said it was nonsense. "Copper carries electrons. The end," were his words, I believe. But switching between a pair of Kimber Kables and a pair of AudioQuest, he IMMEDIATELY heard the difference (not that either cable was "wrong"; they're just different). If turning a half-deaf non-believer around is that easy . . .

Cary Stegall's picture

Yes, there can be a difference, but it's all still a matter of RLC. {Sorry, I lost the rest of this vote by using a left arrow, which was evidently interpreteted as the beginning of an HTML command. I'll never do it again! This one was originally 3 or 4 lines long.---RL}

Jerry Schmidt's picture

I am sold on Monster M550i. At $45/3m pair, my CD player sounds smoother and a little airy. A reasonable price to pay for a noticeable difference. I would never dream of spending into the hundreds of dollars for a pair of wires. Remember that, ideally, the best interconnect is no interconnenct at all!

Anastassios Roumboutsos's picture

It did have a big difference. If anyone does not believe that, then he or she should go to the doctor and check their ears.

Jim M.'s picture

Personally, I've found that the amount of difference a cable change will make is dependent upon the resolution of the rest of the system. Putting expensive, high-rez cables in a low-rez system won't make it significantly better. It's like Butt-head says: "You can't polish a turd, Beavis." On the other hand, changing cables in an accurate, high-rez system can definitely make a big difference.

HAROLD KANE's picture

You can really tweak your system to be more musical to your liking. I've tried silver and silver-and-copper combos with great success. Even made some of my own speaker cables. Anyone who doubts this is deaf.

Jim Morrow's picture

Upgrading from standard wire to an audiophile wire makes a "big difference." The differences among the audiophile cables, whether low- or high-priced, are subtle. Upgrading needs to be done, but to what price level depends on the value the listener places on the subtle differences.

Ihor Sereda's picture

I first noticed a difference six years ago in a Dual turntable/Rotel receiver/Paradigm speaker combination. Bass was faster, voices smoother, and decay and sustain on piano notes more readily heard. I had been using just regular 18 AWG from RadioShack, and then switched to an 8mm OFC wire. WOW!!! My Current system uses van den Hul speaker wire, and TARA Labs Decade Interconnect. . . . Yes, there is enough of a difference that my non-audiophile friends can hear it well without me telling them that I have just made a switch!!

Mert Tetik's picture

I used to have AudioQuest cables and interconnects. Now I have MIT cables: soundstage and bass definition are superior compared to conventional cables.

Chip Moore's picture

I've only noticed a big difference with speaker cables; so far, what I use as interconnects haven't seemed to matter enough to bother with spending any $$$ to upgrade the TARA Prisms I currently use.

Dan Craven's picture

Your system can only be as good as its weakest link, and if your cables don't allow you to hear everything your components are capable of, then they must be replaced. I've found that one CD player can be vastly superior to another, for example, but, with the cables which were adequate for my former source, may not do justice to the new source, and so I've replaced them. Interlinks and speaker cables need to be good enough to let you hear differences in products; if they don't, then you will never think anything sounds better than that Sony rack system you could buy at Best Buy.

Stephen W.  Into's picture

I find it astounding that some people spend more for cables than they do for the equipment they connect. If they spent more time evaluating the synergy of the equipment (as a system), the cables would be much less important. When input and output impedances vary wildly (50 ohms to megohms . . . ), one can guarantee the regular occurrence of mismatches. That said, I still think cables must be sufficient (and appropriate) to the task. One must consider the sonic goals (and the rest of the system) when choosing each piece of equipment.

Greg Curtis's picture

The differences in cables can be heard. Of course, it is relative in the context of a given system. My own experience with a $14k Linn system showed a noticeable improvement going to the factory speaker cables and interconnects (from some Canare interconnects and tri-wired 18g Monster cable). My highs smoothed out, as was the midbass hump I was having a bad time with in my room. And possibly some improved resolution. I must add that these cables were, in my mind, quite expensive, but relative to this industry (which has about as much respect for the dollar as for a woman in a strip club), the prices some companies are asking are ridiculous. It's the kind of marketing that gives this hobby a black eye. No matter how much money one has to spend or how good the cable sounds, some are way out of line---and please stop over-rationalizing the science and manufacturing expense. Point made!

Wire Guy's picture

Went from Phoenix Gold 12-gauge stranded to AudioQuest Type 6+, and the improvement was very noticeable.

Mark Mushkat's picture

High-end speaker cables made a magnificent difference for my Maggies.

Michael Liczbanski's picture

The process CAN be so long and involving (retailers stock only just one or two brands; cable installation is time-consuming) that, at the end of the process. one may not be able to remember what the system sounded like to begin with.

Paul Britton's picture

Mid-price stuff worthwhile---say, up to $100/cable. Over that, too rich for my blood and too subtle a difference.

Bill Hilleary's picture

For me, wire is the most important component in my system. Especially power cords and line filters. (Check out the Electra Glide cords and Bybee boxes---amazing!)

Karl Richichi's picture

Whatever anyone says, Monster (M series) seems to be one of the best with all my Linn stuff...

Steve Winters's picture

Just have not been able to EVER hear any difference that I could contribute to the product, as opposed to: "I spent the money, there must be an Improvement, I think I can hear it."

Ralph Clark's picture

The difference did not justify the expense.

Adam Hammer's picture

I don't spend big bucks on wires. Probably the least important component.

Paul Brushett's picture

Upgrades have been worthwhile to a point. I have found no other item which reaches the point of diminishing returns as quickly. Given the choice of putting $2k into wire or another upgrade, nothing achieves better results than applying the funds to upgrade the source!

Andrew Palubeskie's picture

Using cheap copper is like buying cheap tires for a sports car. They make the car drivable but not performable.

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