Do different speaker cables or interconnects sound different?

It's one of leading audio controversies: Do different audio cables

Do different speaker cables or interconnects sound different?
Yes, quite a bit
57% (157 votes)
Yes, but only a little
20% (56 votes)
Yes, but ever so slightly
10% (29 votes)
No, they all sound the same
13% (35 votes)
Total votes: 277

Louis P.'s picture

Each time I've upgraded my cables over the years from my original Monster Cables dating back to my mid0fi days, there have been noticeable improvments. The PS Audio xStream Plus speaker cables I purchased last year really opened up thew sound and expanded the soudstage.

Bengt's picture

Jim Romanello's picture

Different cables present a different load to the amplifier and therefore change the sound. My experience is that, unless the cable is extermeny crude, differences are audible only with very careful listening, and usually but not always, the differences are minor. Generally, I believe that the only real way to change what you hear is either to change from tube to solid state electronics or from solid state to tubes electronics..OR..change speakers OR to change speaker positions OR change the listening room. Jim GI, NY

EP's picture

I am no expert, but the few cables that I have tried(Kimber, Monster, Audioquest,& LAT), for better or worse,have unique sonic signatures. I don't know how the configuration of the stucture affects the sound, but I can attest to the sound being affected by the gauge of the cable and also whether the cable is copper vs. silver.

Pops's picture

Is there any way of proving this scientifically? You could probably devote half an issue to it if you knew how!

Neil D.'s picture

Yes. There is a difference between cables and it can be significant. However, the gear must be able to resolve the finer details in the music for the differences to be revealed. I have also heard a cable sound significantly different, depending upon where it was located in the signal path (ie it sounded awful between the pre and power amps, but sounded fine between the phono and the preamp). Go figure.

Glen Politano's picture

When I was 12 years old in 1967, I started playing the electric guitar. Immediately, I started noticing how the sound of my guitar changed every time I tried a different cord between my guitar and my amp. At that time I couldn't understand why this was happening, yet I could hear very distinct and somtimes dramtic differences. And this was before my ear had developed. The differences between cables may be much less today but they still have an effect on the signal going through them which ultimately effects the sound. So yes, cables do sound different.

John P.'s picture

Yes, but let's stick to the basics, not get tangled up in esoteric audiofool B.S. Cables of similar design, materials and price level usually sound virtually the same. As you go up the scale of materials and price, the sound often gets much better, but not always. Most silver audio cables deliver way more liveliness and detail than most copper cables. Balanced interconnects and connectors usually beat unbalanced. Eccentric or "cutting edge" design is more likely to be folly than to be effective. Hefty cables pipe more sound than most skinny ones, unless they have high capacitance, which can make them sound foggy. Connectors matter, and pricey ones can help, but not as much as improvement in the wires themselves, and the point of diminishing returns comes quickly when spending cash on connectors. The ultimate (impractical) cabling trick would be to hard wire the whole stereo system together. The biggest improvements I've heard in my own living room: In single triwiring a pair of speakers, changed from AudioQuest Crystal to Kimber 8TC. Swapped out a Theta 1m copper coax digital interconnect in favor of a Kimber TGDL .5m balanced silver. You just about can't go wrong pursuing heavier cables with low capacitance, then/and/or get some silver if you can afford it.

Bill Peace's picture

The placebo effect is alive and well in audioland. The medical industry understands and uses this effect; it's too bad audiophiles choose to ignore it. There are just too many very credible audio designers who will privately admit that wires are a hoax. Publically, that's another story.

Pierre Gauthier's picture

Yes but let's not forget the famous law of diminishing returns,and this is more so with cables of all sort as far as i'm concerned.

Dennis's picture

My goodness! The single greatest improvement I have ever heard in my system was when I went from the manufacturer provided speaker cables (Inner Sound) to my Tara Labs RSC Air Ones! WOW! It was amazing. It was like a new system. Since then, I have replaced all interconnects with higher end Tara Lab cables throughout and each new cable, after burn in, was an awesome upgrade.

audio-sleuth's picture

If a 1" transistor, a 2" resistor, a 3" capacitor, or a half-inch diode can make a difference, why wouldn't 3' of interconnect or 10' of speaker wire?

Haim Ronen's picture

The more we spend on cables, the more differences we hear.

Harry, Virginia's picture

For years I denied the notion that there might be any significant differences between interconnects and speaker cables. Several years ago I replaced my trusty AR-3A speakers with PSB Stratus Goldis. My local audio purveyer installed the speakers (saving me from a major hernia) and left an assortment of audio cables to evaluate at my leisure. After speaker break-in my wife and I spent many hours evaluating first the speaker cables and then the various interconnects. To my chagrin and my spouses delight (she loves it whenever I admit I'm wrong—probably 'cause it happens so rarely), we agreed that there were indeed audible differences among the cables. While we liked several of the top end models, our budget precluded purchasing them and we found that several midline products compared very favorably with the top end. Count me as a believer.

Jeffrey Michael - Seattle, WA's picture

Are you kidding me?!

Rico C.'s picture

Different, yes, but the costs are ree-deek-U-less.

Ray Garrison's picture

This is quite easy to test cheaply. Go to Home Depot or your local equivalent. Buy a few pieces of wire, similar gauge but different construction or materials. You can pick up several different 8 foot lengths for just a few dollars. Try them out. If you hear a difference, well, then you hear a difference. If you don't, then you've just saved yourself a bazillion dollars and a lifetime of never knowing whether you've got the best match for your system.

WalkerTM's picture

Dialectics, materials, windings seem to affect the sound quality to some degree. But I never found the change to be so dramatic that it has justified the outrageous cost of some cables. My system includes good cables but not overpriced ones I reserve those funds for better components.

Clay White's picture

In my experience, interconnects make a big difference. Speaker cables not so much.

Jose I.  Sanchez's picture

Yes, but only an audiophile can tell a difference.

Stereophonic's picture

i moved up from bell wire to 315 strand oxygen free cable and noticed a big difference in volume and sound stanging.

Randolph Schein's picture

After I upgraded to an Audio Research Reference preamp and VT200 amplifier, and had had them in my system for a while, I decided to audition new speaker cables and interconnects to see what a difference they would make. I went from Kimber balanced KCTG and double bi-wire 8TC to their all-silver Select balanced interconnects and speaker wire (single run), after trying a variety of different products in my system. The difference was simply amazing: less grain, better resolution, a more "open" sound, greater dynanics, and improved response at the frequency extremes. I know it boggles my mind to think that a very short run (5 feet) of speaker wire cost more than my Maggie 3.5s, but the sonic difference was well worth it for me, because my speakers and upstream components have the resolving power to enable me to hear the differences that equipment substitutions will reveal.

Martin Nars's picture

Silver is the best conducting material for audio signals.

David C Dickson's picture

I have over the years tried many different cables exotic or otherwise and have gone back to copper as pure as possible with eichmann connectors

Y.  Kerem Icelli's picture

Yes, they do and I don't like it! It is becoming a way for the wire makers to demand a lot more money for what they are producing. I'd love the idea of different sounding wires, too, if i were running a cable company.

bobaloo's picture

That is the dumbest question I have seen here in a long time.

A Mcalpine's picture

Even the spouse heard the improvements .But was it better?

Nick's picture

Of course! Why would you even have to pose this question to a Stereophile audience? I heard the difference the first time I replaced the ones that came with the component with low-end AudioQuests. I became further aware of how different each cable sounded after borrowing a half dozen or so from The Cable Company to evaluate and choose from. The differences can be nearly as great as between CD players, amps, and preamps but not as great as between speakers, phono cartridges, or turnable/tonearm combinations.

Al Matheson's picture

Most definitely,from the early days to the so many it gets confusing, try it with any two cables by yourself without somebody telling you what to hear. Amaze yourself.

ChiAudioNut's picture

Interconnects and particularly speaker cables can make a big difference in the sound of a system. However, the audio system must have fairly high resolving capability for cables to make a big difference. It makes no sense for someone to spend megabucks on cables if their source, preamp, amp and speakers aren't up to it. Cables should be viewed as a component and matched to the system accordingly.