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

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

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?

S.  H.  Shin's picture

I find speaker-cable upgrades to be more noticeable than interconnect upgrades.

Edward Miller's picture

It's a "weak link" thing. $1000 in speaker wire won't fix a $500 stereo system.

Steve Gould's picture

I switched from your basic stranded copper to AudioQuest Forest and Midnight bi-wire pairs and crystal interconnects. To sum it up, my wife heard the difference!

J.G.  Sanderson's picture

The biggest improvements in my system were made with interconnects and speaker wire!

Brad's picture

The greatest ripoff in audio---a lot of smoke and mirrors.

Dave Wood's picture

Buy them secondhand.

Olle Linder's picture

I am using a rather analytical and expensive system; cables do differ a lot. But it is absolutley not neccesary that the price determines the quality! For the moment I am using a very cheap digital link ($1/foot), and it kills the very well-respected & expensive Illuminati I have been using a year. Interesting? I do not think it is interesting to spend megabucks on cables; in fact, it is rather silly! Quality upgrades can be rather cheap.

Andrew Oltman's picture

I recently went through the upgrade thing. Caveat emptor!! Yes, they make a big difference, but more dollars does not necessarily mean better sound. There are a lot of companies pushing cables, each one with their own "schtick." Cables with big boxes on them, cables with clockwise weave, counterclockwise weave, Litz, Hyperlitz (is there a Hypolitz?), etc. The bottom line: Auditioning cables extensively is the only way to make an intelligent decision as to which might improve the sound of your system.

F.  Swift, NF.  Ca.'s picture

The difference a cable can make is striking. However, one must wonder how much of it it is truth. The folks at Meridian have said that cables are ". . . a rich man's tone controls." Can this be far from the truth? I live in a remote part of North America, Newfoundland, and have had to purchase almost every interconnect or speaker cable that I have wanted to try. The results of this sometimes expensive experiment have led me to believe that cables are certainly worth trying; the big problem is, you must try several. It can be a hobby all on its own.

Roger Clark's picture

Cables and interconnects are as important as any other component in the system.

Gary Ang's picture

Big differences---some good, some bad---but there were definitely differences. As to which were good and which were bad, it was mostly blind luck.

John Conte's picture

I was able to try many different interconnects and cables in my system via The Cable Company, and couldn't believe the vast, as well as subtle, differences. Even WBT locking RCAs made a difference on the same cable! But do they have to be so expensive? I'm not convinced that price equates to improved sonics in a particular application. Experimentation is the key, in my humble opinion.

M.K.  Navarro's picture

There is going to be a difference between a reputable product and lamp cord, but for the most part "high-end" cables are a waste of hard-earned money! I/C cables must provide shielding due to low signal levels, and all cables used should have relatively low resistance, inductance, and capacitance. Beyond that, the rest is snake oil!The smallest step change in amplitude that can be detected by human hearing is about 0.3dB for a pure tone. In more realistic situations it is 0.5 to 1dB. Those who claim more than that should also be good at playing fetch and probably chase after cars. Typical speaker-wire resistance (say 0.1 ohm) causes response variations across the band following the speaker's impedance curve. The response deviation caused by the change in impedance is unlikely to exceed 0.05dB---this is not audible!The most significant factor will be the wire's lumped inductance. For a reasonable cable construction (say, less than 4uH), the effect will be a minor rolloff in frequency response at the top of the audio band (equal to about 0.1dB at around 20kHz, into any speaker load). Again, due to the limits of hearing, this is not audible!Some "high-end" cables are low-inductance but add capacitance instead; why should you pay significantly more for capacitive wires when slightly inductive ones do not produce an audible difference?On the other hand, a cheap tweak for those audiophiles who seem to prefer the "warm" sound of tubes and want a nice high-frequency rolloff can be to use some heavy-gauge lamp cord and just coil it up a few turns before connecting it to the speakers.Back to reality. Cables pass a sinewave with unmeasurable distortion (and no, music is not more complex than sinewaves---it is sinewaves, just lots of them). Simple notions of inter-crystal rectification, or "micro-diodes," cannot be shown to exist. Also, audio signals are AC and therefore, by the laws of physics, CANNOT be directional . I will concede that gold-plating is viable solution to prevent corrosion.I suppose many will scoff at these scientific notions, but that's just as well---it's not my money! I guess some audiophiles don't want to take a chance on affecting the second-harmonic sound of their directly heated triode amplifier generating 3% THD.

Jason Fortun's picture

I must admit to being somewhat skeptical as to the value of expesive cables. From networks to medical instrumentation, the cables seem to be pretty standard yet work fine. I can see it in the interconnects as they deal with very low voltages, but speaker cables? The physics just don't seem to justify $2000+ cables.

T's picture

Very important, but I don't spend much money on them anyhow. It's funner to spend money on a new preamp or hedphones, so I never seem to get any money over for cables.

Frank J.  Alles's picture

There are certainly large differences here, but at the prices of the better cables one can ill afford to "gamble," unless you try before you buy. Pet peeve: Much labor is involved in terminations, not in the wire itself---so why do prices increase in direct multiples of the cable's length??!!

Joe Rizzo's picture

I like the higher "build quality" of the cables, but I don't hear any spectacular differences.

Donald Carmack's picture

Video more than Audio.

r yadach's picture

If you can't hear a difference between cables, save your money and go to Tweeter and get a nice receiver.

George Shaffer's picture

Money is better spent on upgrading the speakers and the front-end source. Of course, more software, especially if a sense of adventure is applied in the choices, is much more satisfying than looking at pretty cables. Our hobby is LISTENING, not looking. Even with looking as in home theater, more software beats cables any day, in my opinion.

Jeff Hopkins's picture

I have tried commericial speaker and interconnect cables and I have made my own. I like the ones I made.

DEts-Hokin@lgcy.com's picture

New wires can be a mixed blessing!

Steve Hubbard's picture

I am very skeptical, yet despite myself I still buy them. Why?

santaflush@aol.com's picture

Cheap interconnects for cheap gear, medium for medium, and so on. Upgrading cables opens up the music & lets your equipment work to its potential.

Don Howard's picture

I have all Siltech cables and interconnects. It is the best!!!!

David's picture

It makes a dramatic difference, but do not go overboard---remember the "law of diminishing returns."

Scott@spomail.stanford.edu's picture

I have a modest system consisting of Cal Audio, Bryston, and Vandersteen components. I originally thought that people were crazy to spend all that extra money on interconnects and speaker wire. However, I recently auditioned several different interconnects and could not believe the differences in sound---some of which I liked and some of which I didn't. I ended up going with Straight Wire (Encore and Maestro).

Gil Lester's picture

I have tested many cables and I absolutley can hear a difference! It depends a lot on your system as to whether or not you hear a difference. I am a bass player (upright) and spent over $500 for a quality cord, and other bass players are drooling! No kidding, jazz bass players in my town can't figure out why my bass responds so well with my amp (GK). Unfortunately, most musicians can't afford extra costs like that. I have probably $7000 of upgraded cable in my home system, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Nils Lima's picture

It depends on the system---the better the components, the more good wire is justified.

Anonymous's picture

There's definite improvement in the overall sound.