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

Al Earz's picture

What a question, considering the countless reveiws done by Stereophile through the years. Yes they all sound different in one way or another. Sometimes it's as simple as imaging, but there is a avalid market out there for cables toi help tweek the individual system to the listeners ear, equipment and enviroment.

Mark Gdovin's picture

Yes, I've heard differences. But hardly EVER in comparison to the price differences. I've made many cables quite inexpensively that compare to those costing insane prices. Look, it is all the most simple of Ohm's laws. RCL dynamics. Electrons "like" to travel on the surface so surface MATTERS when high power (speaker cables) are in question. "Small signal" interconnects are quite subject to RFI/EMI interferance so shielding is all important. But, there are only so many ways to skin a cat, so to speak. Electrons don't go all "magic" just because somebody is using teflon rather than polypro insulation. Yes, there are MANY TINY and almost immeasurable effects, but I will go to my dying grave, as a solid audiophile, as a demonstrated "good ear", and still think that ninety percent of the "cable game" is pure snake oil sold to the blind and believing lemmings. Yes, I've actually demo'ed EXTREME expensive interconnects in my system as compared to my $50/pair .5 meter connects. The difference was less than the diameter of a gnat's most delicate wing hair. Yes, a good ear can hear it, but is it worth it?

Tim Bailey's picture

IT DEPENDS: Leaving aside connections being clean ands tight, which is MUCH more important. Some combinations of equipment and cable can be easy to hear. IME&O people would be much better spending a good deal LESS on cables and a good deal more effort, thought, time, and only then money/DIY on very fine set-up, and the room's acoustic beahviour. MUCH higher ROI.

Woody Battle's picture

Cables do sound different, but more expensive cables do not always sound better.

Rob Cornelson's picture

I hear differences. Different cables have different qualities. Beyond that it becomes subjective. Listen for yourself.

Michael Chernay's picture

In my search for a cleaner and truer sound, ive tried many cables in many different systems. I do have to say that there are differences between cable, espeacially when you are comparing commercial speaker cables and interconects, and the cables you can buy at your local hardware store. But even between relatively expensive cables i can hear slight differences. But i could not say that a specific design is superior to another. Rather, in any given system different cables will perform differently, due to impedances as well as quality of connection.

LC's picture

Yes (duh)...but in some cases only if the system is of sufficient resolution to hear the differences.

Blue Mikey's picture

I'm not sure saying that cables "sound" at all is quite the right terminology, but different kinds of cables can certainly interact with systems in different ways that change the overall sound of the system. I've always scored reproduced music like this: if live acoustic music in a good hall is 100, silence is 0, a transistor radio is 45, a boom-box 55, a mass-market rack system 60 to 65, then most hobbyist stereos fall in the 70–78 range. The very best systems I've ever heard reach into the low 80s, maybe 85. By that understanding, cables make a difference of only a point or two at most. That's all. The only cables that have ever really made a positive effect on my systems were some pure silver AudioQuest Lapis, which really opened up the soundstage on my stereo at the time, and some pretty good Nordost, which made a marked difference in clarity. Most everything else I've tried is more or less "a distinction without a difference." I don't really think wire is worth bothering too much about. It's certainly not worth all the hair-tearing and teeth-gnashing it seems to inspire.

NC's picture

Absolutely—those of you who think otherwise have cloth ears.

Paul Stiles, Mtn.View, CA's picture

It depens on what I have been drinking.

W.L.Cai's picture

I've tested changing different interconnects and speak cables with the same audio component/system. Yes they sounded quite different. Some made you happy while others made you unable to sit down or sleep at ease, even absolutely frustrated. To make your listening an enjoyment, you've to listen and change again and again to select the most suitable interconnects (analogua & digital) and speak cables. It's indispensable. You change your gears, you change the cables, too.

Srg's picture

Sad but true, they are an expensive EQ.

Stephen Curling's picture

I believe the difference comes from the quality of the construction and shielding. For example the cables that come with an APEX DVD player and Monser Cable M Series would offer a slight improvement. But the difference between say that MC M Series cable and a comparable AQ cable...virtually nothing.

Chris B.'s picture

Yes, cables do sound different and, in my experience, the more you spend the better they sound—although as with all things hi-fi, some sound dreadful. However, spending a few thousand on a new source or amplifier will give you a much greater improvement in sound quality than spending the same money on some high-end cables for your exisiting system—unless, of course, your system is state-of-the-art and the only thing left to upgrade is the cables!

Gordon E Smith's picture

Different - but not always better!

Aaron Trocano's picture

Quite a bit. It all depends on how import subtle differences are to you.

Tired of designer lables.'s picture

A loaded question. Do well made cables ($60) sound bettter than the free cables that came with your boom box? Yes. Does a $60 dollar cable sound remarkably better than a $500 cable. Only if you want to think it does.

Bostjan's picture

Few years ago I was a strong believer that an electrical conductor is an electrical conductor and therefore I did not want to hear the differences a good cable (especially an interconnect) can make—until I borrowed a good quality interconnect and plugged it into my system. I was amazed! I could clearly hear differences in sound between my stock cable and the borrowed one. From that moment on, I have firmly believed that a good cable can make a big difference in any system.

Jim Germann's picture

They sure do in this household. However, the biggest difference that I heard was when I switched from short inerconnects/long speaker cables to long interconnects/ short speaker cables. It was amazing!

High Ended's picture

This is highly dependant of the piece of gear or system it's going into. If the system is capable of great resolve then different cables will show a specific signature to their sound.

macksman's picture

Yes, they sound distinct. As with other components, say phono cartridges, system resolution capacity determines how the distinction reaches the ears of a listener. Then the listener interprets not only the sound but the value for him/herself. My choice of Cardas interconnects and Kimber Select speaker cables may be right for me and insupportable for another.'s picture

Are they glorified tone controls? Well, maybe. There may be more going on here than can be accounted for by current theory. I only care about results, and I have found that I can get the results I want with the right cables.

james r.  garvin's picture

While in college, I went from Radio Shack zip cord to Kimber Kable. Dramatic improvement. After college, I upgraded to Audioquest. Slight improvement. My impression: the laws of diminishing returns is most prevalent in cables.

Alex Fundock's picture

Blind comparison testing of interconnects left no doubt in this former skeptic that audible--and sometimes significant--differences indeed exist.

Steve Gilbert's picture

I've found that speaker cables make quite a difference. Every time I've upgraded at has increased my listening enjoyment; and I haven't spent a great deal of money. Right now I have the copper 10ga. Goertz cable, it's not expensive and wonderful on my system. On the other hand, I've found that interconnects make almost no difference once you've invested in competently built cables that are shielded. Once again, you don't have to invest a fortune.

J-Arbuckle's picture

If you use them for audio, they all sound the same. Use them to whack audionuts, however, and by God they do produce different whacking sounds!

Steve's picture

Gotta be one of the biggest scams of all time. Audible wire? What a joke!!!

David Weinhart's picture

Yes, without good cables the best sound is NOT possible.

Javier Santiago-Lucerna, MA's picture

I haven't tried that much cables, and most of them are in the bargain area. But I do have to say that my AQ Slate cable speaker improved significantly bass extension, coherence and sound stage within my system. The same can be said about my MIT's single ended interconnects and digital coax's. Though not what I intended, compared to those used before, they brought a more realistic sounstage and the needed balance, although the overall sound is a little dry. But I do dare people to try different cables. Ultimately, I do not know whether some will sound absolutely right; for me, they just sound different, which give an opportunity to find those that suit my taste better.

paul salongo's picture

Then again, some people still believe Saddam had something to do with 9-11 and have no idea who Osama is!