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

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

Chris Fortier's picture

I experienced a huge difference in image definition and spaciousness when switching from Monster Cable MonsterFlex to MIT 770 speaker cables.

Mike Burns's picture

Several years ago, I upgraded from low-grade $10 interconnects and standard Monster Cable speaker cables to AudioQuest Quartz interconnects and Crystal speaker cables. This was my first experience with quality audio cables, and it made a HUGE difference. However, as you can see, this was not comparable to upgrading from already using quality cables. I would suspect that if I were to upgrade again, I would see a much more subtle change; but if my equipment warrants the change, I would be willing to try it again.

Rick Boscha's picture

Transparent Audio cables are awesome.

Michael Davis's picture

Spent a bunch on interconnects and wire. Complete waste of money, in my opinion.

Bill Richmond's picture

Speaker cable upgrade from AudioQuest Indigo to Monster Cable M1 yielded an amazing improvement in sound.

Larry Gordon's picture

Huge, Huge, Huge.

Gaines Owen's picture

I upgraded from RadioShack's best to Monster's mid-level interconnects and speaker wire. The difference was noticeable as an overall cleaner sound and improved definition and frequency response, especially at the bottom end. I still can't imagine some of the $1000/pair stuff, though. Maybe if I win the lottery.

John Leosco's picture

Cable compatibility within a system is just as important as synergy between components. I used to believe that differences between cables was just a bunch of BS. While auditioning some gear at a knowledgeable dealer over 10 years ago, the presentation was somewhat dark and lacking detail. The dealer changed one interconnect between the CD player and preamp, which changed the character of the sound completely. I became a believer. Since then, I have treated cables as any other component in a system and have made sure to audition them accordingly. I was also stunned at the difference in detail while swapping AudioQuest Diamond for Lapis between a D/A and a passive preamp and solid-state amp. I'm sold.

Ned F.  Kuehn's picture

Kimber Kable silver interconnects and speaker cables are the tops for cost/benefit ratio. I have found, beyond the cost of these cables and interconnects, the difference is too subtle to be worth the dough. The system I have is quite revealing, but no way has a >$500/meter interconnect or >$1000/meter speaker cable made a cost-effective difference. I put the spare change in records/CDs and enjoy the music!

Dave Egan's picture

The most appropriate interconnect for most equipment is the one that comes packed in the box. This would be made to the same quality as the wire inside the component.

HighEndOne@aol.com's picture

Yes, cables can make a difference. They all have a slight effect on the sound or imaging of my system. However, the law of diminishing returns really applies here. I would be very wary of an interconnect that runs over $200/meter, or speaker cables that cost over $20/foot. In my own system, Kimber PBJ, Canare Digiflex, and TARA (speaker) give great results for the price. They are MUCH better than any no-name cable. I have also built my own interconnects from top-quality connectors and Canare cable with outstanding results. These I use to hook up tape decks, tuners, and the system we have in the family room. Just trust YOUR ears! And ignore all the fancy color advertising.

Rosano Cellucci's picture

It's pretty obvious that the cheap cables that come with stereo equipment are of inferior quality and need to be replaced. However, the outrageous claims made by the cable companies, as well as some of the outrageous prices charged by them, is a waste of money. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in all this!!

Jeffery Arthur's picture

Detail ,imaging, soundstage, air, silence; plus, helps too-forward systems back off, and overly laid-back systems move forward. Timbre, pace, depth, all increase. Much more emotionally involving.

John Nitiss's picture

The appalling thing about cables is the vast ignorance of basic science by the people making and selling the cables. I attended a demonstration put on by the marketing director of a major cable manufacturer, and it was clear that he had no understanding of basic electrical concepts such as impedence, etc., although his sales patter was laced with electrical terms. There are advertisements of cables, some with price tags in excess of $10,000, which blather scientific nonsense. Cables may well make a difference, but the people in the cable industry blacken their own eyes. Finally, Stereophile really doesn't help much. For example, although the magazine regularly reviews the most expensive offerings of cable companies, it never seriously reviews their realistic products. Wine magazines do vertical tastings; why can't stereophile?

Pat Putman, subscriber's picture

Right up to the point of diminishing returns. Optimum price/performance might be Canare wires, with good-quality terminations. Good wire + short runs = good performance.

Karl Fattig's picture

Well, they carry the signal, right? Sometimes when I wish there were better STANDARDS, I smarten up and realize how far my ears alone have taken me . . .

Joe Marinan's picture

RadioShack Gold interconnects recently measured far better response than OEM patch cords.

Daniel Hooper's picture

Upgrading interconnects seems to make a bigger difference than upgrading speaker cables. But the further up the quality latter you go, the subtler the differences become.

Bradley Smith's picture

As always, buy what you can afford. There's good low-cost cable out there by AudioQuest and Monster. Even RadioShack is better than the OEM interconnects that come in the box, or the lamp cord that some of my friends use for their speakers.

Lon Armstrong's picture

Cable and interconnects of high quality can radically change the sound of systems with even a smidgen of transparency. They can be used to tailor the sound to your tastes, or balance a system's strengths and weaknesses. I have been using TARA Labs Reference interconnects and speaker cables to excellent effect with my system. I recommend experimenting to find cables that deliver the right goods for you in your system!

Matt Smith's picture

Anyone who says differently {differently from what?---RL} has no idea of what they're talking about

Steve Slettvet's picture

Never enough cash to get the best, so don't worry and enjoy.

Simon Kern's picture

Cable is not an accessory, it is a component. Therefore it is vital that you choose the best available for your budget.

Etienne Le Flore's picture

Before updating cables, always optimize your current system. There is nothing worse than repeating the same mistake twice!

Jack Cline's picture

Big difference in high-end systems, much smaller in low-end. To improve high-end just a little it costs a lot.

dudeymon@aol.com's picture

I've been lucky enough to have a friend at an audio store who lets me bring home cables & wires to try out and compare before I buy. It can make a world of difference if you have a decent (doesn't have to be great) system. To doubters, I can only say---try it!

Marc A.  Petrillo's picture

Hi. This guy Dan Rust must have a lot of wax in his ears. Ya gotta be kiddin' me---speaker cables make a HUGE difference in the sound of yer system. He must be listening to a Yorx shelf squawker. ; )

Woody Compton's picture

I use Nordost Red Dawn in my main system, and Blue Heaven everywhere else. The difference is so obvious, even the non-audiophiles approve! I'd rather sell my gear than use Zip-Cord.

Joe Nowosielski's picture

My profession is power-conversion engineering, fractional through 700kVA. I hold four patents in high power/frequency conversion technology. There is no benefit beyond minimizing the resistance of speaker wiring and properly shielding signal wiring. In fact, some of the available "wires" have so much capacitance associated with them, they can probably cause some power amplifiers to become unstable. Perhaps this is the "difference" that some "Golden Ears" claim to hear. Conductor "skin effects" do not pose any significant problems with properly sized wiring until the power frequency is well above the normal audio range.

Ian Baker's picture

I am using IXOS interconnects and the new Gamma speaker cable with subtle and noticeable effects (at least that's what I think!). The video interconnects in particular make a difference. I am also using an MIT S-Video cable from my Sony DVD to Sony 34" TV with very noticeable improvement, even over an IXOS 75-ohm composite interconnect. Ian Baker, Singapore