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

Daniel Emerson's picture

Yes, based on my budget system. The difference between the patch cords supplied with the various components and a set of

Adam's picture

In my experience the differences are small.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

Yes, cables make a difference, no it is not such a huge difference. That's all, really.

Robert's picture

If any man have ears to hear,let him hear. Mark 7:16

Rick K.'s picture

As long as the cables are thick enough and not the overly thin crap purchased at mass merchandisers.

Andrew Watters's picture

Absolutely no doubt

Dan's picture

Well, when i first started out in this hobby i would have argued that there is no difference. But as my equipment becomes more refined, there are massive changes in sound with different interconnects!

Colin's picture

Seriously. All this time, and people still doubt? It can make the difference between good and great.

What does that matter?'s picture

I've conducted controlled listening tests on interconnects and speaker cables. Too date not one listener was ever able to differentiate between interconnects that were included in the box with low-to-medium priced components with interconnects costing up to $300 a meter and 14 or 16 gauge 'zip' cord compared to audiophile speaker cables costing a similar amount.

John Valvano's picture

Yes, quite a bit. However, once you get to a certain level the differences become fairly small to non-existent and a matter of personal taste.

Bill's picture

I've tried several speaker cables over the last few months, and found subtle differences between some. Specifically, I found Kimber Kable 4VS slightly better than Monster wire, and Monster modestly better than generic OFC. But when I tried the AudioQuest Midnight 3 (an older solid, as opposed to stranded, cable), I found a substantial difference in bass clarity(!), and a noticably wider, fuller soundstage. In addition, I toyed with Audio Research and Monster "M" toslink (optical) interconnects before recntly upgrading to a "glass" (a real bargain!), and was absolutely blown away by the difference in the glass interconnect!

earl manley's picture

There is a difference. Often however, it is a small one and frequently has little to do with price.

Craig's picture

I have not had a opportunity to listen to various systems with different cables. It takes a lot of time to switch out different cables and most audio shops will only spend the time that takes if you demonstrate that "ready to buy quality". There is a difference in sound quality between very small cables, such as 18 gauge and something larger, like 14 or 12 gauge if you are using a medium or large size amp, but otherwise based on my very limited time doing A to B cable comparisons I have not heard any noticeable difference in sound quality.

Woofy's picture

Heck yeah they sound different. If you don't hear it you don't know how to listen. If you don't listen buy Bose and zip cord and you'll save yourself a lot of money.

Lawrence of arkansas's picture

I think it can have as mutch of an effect as a 120lb. woman driving a car. And comparing the gas milage diference to a 170lb man. maybe less? I used to drag race. The diference between a 12 sec. run & a 10 sec. run is several thousand dollars.But it is faster!

Jack Duavit's picture

Unfortunately, differences in price far exceed difference in performance. Cables are truly where the law of diminishing returns is most applicable in the high end.

Anonymous's picture

I've yet to come acroos the perfect nuetral cable.

Norman L.  Bott's picture

Logic dictates that different products of any kind would sound different. When I replaced my old cables with more expensive custom made cables, there was a vast improvement in the sound.

Harold B.'s picture

When I purchased a new integrated amp and a DVD-A player, my dealer made recommendations on cables. She provided her prefered cable and a couple less expensive options. The difference in performance was not out of line with the cost as far as my wife and I were concerned. We just didn't want to spend more than we had already. As much as I'd hoped they wouldn't make a significant difference, they did. We wound up buying two pairs of interconnects and two pairs of speaker cable for around $2K. It's not so much about cost but system synergy. Our dealer recommended the right cables, not just the most expensive.

M.  Garner's picture

Yes, they do make a difference, and sometimes they don't. Considering the variables involved in cable design: resistance, capacitance, inductance, conductor material, cable geometry, dialectric material, shielding properties, and God knows what else. With all of these variables it is easy to assume that cables can and do often sound different. Those who cling to quantifying sonic characteristics solely via current electrical testing instrumentation and methods are making the fatal, age-old scientific assumption that technology has reached its peak, and there is nothing more to know than what their present day knowledge and instruments can measure. I think it is arrogant to assume such a thing. That being said, those who rely solely on listening tests are susceptible to the deficiencies in our short term sonic memory, and personal biases.

Randy Hensley's picture

I was convinced that wire was wire, and it was silly to spend big money on cables. At a Stereophile show a few years ago, I was talked into trying a set of Kimber PBJ interconnects in place of the original ones on my old NAD CD player. A substantial (if subtle) improvment in image clarity and soundstage was the result. I still think is silly to spend big money on cabling unless you've also dropped big money on your system, but an upgrade with something like the PBJ on my mostly C and D class system was a worthwhile investment.

jocko's picture

Sound like when they hit the floor??? I don't believe that cables sound like anything other than that. They may, however, transmit electric signals differently.

Larry's picture

I have tried to convince myself many times of differences butI don't hear any. I find it laughable when I hear yet another reviewer discuss cable burn-in. Or, even more ridiculous, battery powered cables.

Pradip Banerjee's picture

I haven't found any major difference in them

T.  McDonald's picture

Admitted... going from "stock" factory supplied interconnects to a "audiophile grade" product makes a difference. But I have yet to be convinced of a difference between a $50 "cable" versus one that costs $200+. And a hefty speaker wire is preferable to something thin. But again... esoteric cord v. hardware store ??? Maybe it's just me.

Graeme Nattress's picture

Cables are the biggest scam in the industry. The bad news is that magazines like Stereophile, which I happily subscribe to, help keep the cable myth going. In most hi-fi areas, Stereophile is very balanced, and provides great measurements, but it does not do anything to prove what its reviewers say about cables. Either Stereophile should stop reviewing (or even mentioning) cables, or prove that what its reviewers are hearing is true.

Keith Y's picture

The difference can be like night and day!

hamid's picture

The cable manufacturers were once begging to sell their products. Now they've turned every single audiophiles to feel like a beggar. The cable manufacturers are making tons of USDollars & WE are still looking for the only little differences & missing the whole point:LISTENING TO MUSIC. I do strongly believe that cables in general are & should be the last link in a system to deal with & 5% to 10% of a system budget should go there. And it is enough. In USA there are zillions of ENTERTAINMENT & RECREATION. I think HighEndAudio is definitely the last UNLESS celebrities start to help this miserable business. Yeah! Ask Steven Soderbergh to make a film on HighEndAudio. He one day will. He is the only director that I know that has Martin Logan loudspeakers on his film THE LIMEY & again the only director that one of his characters is talking about B&W loudspeakers in his movie TRAFFIC. These my friends create QUITE A BIT DIFFERENCES if seen more. Cheers. Hamid. Tehran-IRAN.

Jayne Lee Wilson's picture

Not all systems reveal, or respond to, such differences; in my own fairly high-end system, I've noticed that the more costly interconnects from wireworld and audioquest for example, tend to be more characterless and transparent to the source, so producing similar sonic results.

Joseph Manley's picture

If you can't hear it, your system resolution is compromised. It really is that obvious.