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?

Michael W.  Martin's picture

Ohm's law explains the reasons quite well. Larger and cleaner is better!!

Rafael Muller's picture

I used to have AQ type 4s for my speakers. I upgraded them to Transparent and that made a major change. Also had AQ Rubys and swapped them out for balanced Monster. Changes were easily palpable, even by friends who weren't into hi-fi.

Jeffrey Teuber's picture

Various wires do apear to affect the sound. The results, however, are inconsistent and do not always correlate with prices, or the extravagant claims made by designers. There is so much insulting nonsense propagated by people like MIT,TARA Labs, and "Golden Section" Cardas, one becomes disenchanted with the whole proposition. Voodoo, superstition, and outright fraud are rampant. WE DESERVE BETTER!!!

David W Smith's picture

I had MIT 750+2s. My system is CAL Icon Mk.2, MIT330+2, ARC LS3 and VT100, MIT750+2, Thiel 3.6. The MIT 750+2 seemed to bring out the LS3 solid-state forward or a little too hard on top. The new MIT 750 CVT made its sound very neutral and well-balanced. The system seems to blend together just right, making the music more involving. I substituted an old solid-state amp (McIntosh 2205) for the VT100, and everything else was the same---it was even more forward on top. A friend brought over an old ARC ?SH130 100Wpc. The tube amp worked well with the Thiel 3.6s, so I went with the VT100. Was looking to try a another preamp, but the LS15 is nice, but not a good time. Called MIT and they recommended their new CVT750, so I traded up 750+2 for 750CVT, and, yes, magic. MIT did recommend I get a better CD player, but the 150 Wadia will have to wait.

Thomas Scott's picture

I have never been able to detect a difference in cables despite spending a lot of money on the assurance that I would.

MM WILSON's picture

Grossly overrated impact.

John Balatsias's picture

There is definitely a "worthy difference," however, I still am not willing to shell out too much money for one cable. I still feel that you can get a "bigger" upgrade by using the extra money for a better amp, speaker, or source. If you are looking for a "cheaper" upgrade, kind of a tweak, then yes, switch cables. This will give you a "fix" for a while; unfortunately, not a long while . . .

Bob Wood's picture

I didn't want to believe there'd be much difference, but the audition IMMEDIATELY converted me at each level of Transparent's product. By immediate, I mean within ten seconds (or less). Clarity, sense of space---it all changed!

Kevin Kellner's picture

As a pipefitter (welder), I would like to try (00) welding cable on my speakers---it's cheap, and they will probably look & sound awesome. Ha Ha!

Nick Kumis's picture

On a small scale, I first noticed cable differences with my first cheap CD player---a Pioneer entry-level unit---in 1985. ( I don't recall the model number, but my brother and sister-in-law are still using it!) I was cleaning contacts on my system when I decided to reconnect my CD player to listen to music while working on the rest of the system. I used a pair of generic "cheapy" cables that came with my cassette deck by mistake instead of the cables that originally came with the CD player. The sound had slightly less bass, and was dry and uninvolving. I thought to myself that if the Pioneer's OEM cables were better than another company's OEM cables, there must be a difference in quality when I upgrade to after-market cables. It was a Sunday evening and I couldn't buy any, but since I'm in the business of installing industrial and residential sound, I made up a pair of custom cables using RG-59 antenna wire and Switchcraft RCA connectors. It was like I'd purchased a new CD player! Within a week I bought Monster Cables (don't remember the number). I now have AudioQuest Lapis cables for my Luxman D-105 (the one with the tubes in the front-end), and have relegated the Monster Cables to service my cassette, DAT, and VCRs.

Mark Fitzgerald's picture

After 10 years of selling audio equipment, I am still amazed at the significant improvement quality interconnects and speaker cables will make in a system. There comes a point where cables can outperform your system. It sure is fun trying to find that point.

David Battle's picture

The change from cheap to moderately priced interconnects is huge. The change from moderately priced to expensive interconnects is more subtle, but can still be worth the price.

Mario Cassar's picture

Perhaps it has something to do with the electrical properties and their interactions, but I have found a "HUGE" difference between the Nordost Blue Heaven Interconnects and the AudioQuest Lapis 2. The AQ are by far more "natural," while the Nordost are more "electronic." The same is true when comparing the Nordost Blue Heaven speaker cable and the Alpha Goertz M2. The latter are more natural sounding and more detailed. Perhaps I can detect these differences because I do not have a preamp, but use the Meridian 518 as a digital controller. These differences were not as drastic when I used a passive preamp, which in turn left a definite "footprinty" coloration on the sound.

Jeff Walker's picture

Subtle in terms of looks, but in testing I have not heard any difference between the AudioQuest Midnight cables and AudioQuest Type 4 or TARA or whatever, and good-quality heavy-gauge wire. They look neat, though, and friends are forever talking about the garden-hose-sized cables I have hooked up to my speakers.

T.  Towns's picture

Simpatico cables tailored to your system can make or break a system. Choose carefully.

Kin So's picture

Cables do make a difference in a system, but it's not neccessarily true that more expensive cables sound better in your system.

Carlos Laires, Portugal's picture

Subtle difference, and not always for the better. In general, if you have medium/good wires in your sistem, don't spend more money trying to get better sound. Save the money and buy new, better hardware.

David Gutteridge's picture

Being new to stereo equipment, I was skeptical that speaker cables and interconnects would make much of a difference. But after trying different ones out, I found that indeed they did (to a point). However, I am a "budget" audiophile, so I have only experimented with lower-cost audiophile cables. I would not spend, say, $100/foot for cable; in that price range I don't think the trade-offs are worth it, but of course others might disagree.

Clarence Ball's picture

Of course YOU must be able to detect those differences in order to verify them for yourself. If you can't hear the difference, then don't spend the money. bruiser@adnc.com

David Merrifield's picture

I just bought new speaker cables. The difference was substantial---my (skeptical) wife could hear the difference in the next room! Need I say more? My last interconnect upgrade reaped similar significant improvements.

Kevin Sutton's picture

It is not worth spending big bucks unless your gear is of similar value.

Allen Scott's picture

Main improvement was in imaging, but really, all aspects seem to improve. Much more detail, depth, etc. with new TARA Decade interconnects and speaker cables.

Edgar Balian's picture

The differences become more noticeable as other components are upgraded, improving the resolution of the system. Cables are a vital part of obtaining the ultimate system.

Anonymous's picture

Nothing but hi-fi jewelry.

Stephen's picture

If it is a digital interconnect, it is a waste of time and money. But tell that to the golden-eared crowd with no technical knowledge!

Richard Sorrells's picture

I have found the best results are achieved by budgeting for cable as follows, in descending order of money to be spent: 1) Speaker cables. 2) Interconnects for main listening source. 3) Interconnects for the amp. 4) Digital cables. 5) Interconnects for secondary listening sources, esp. the VCR, tape deck, and tuner. :)

Anonymous's picture

Replaced Kimber PBJ interconnects with Nordost Red Dawn between DAC and preamp, preamp and amp, and results were astounding! Nordost Red Dawn gave a much quieter, blacker background, quieter noisefloor, and much more accurate/natural presentation than the Kimber PBJ. The greatest improvement came in an expanded and deeper soundstage, with finer inner detail being revealed more---than I had ever dreamed that cables could render. Also tried the Nordost Eco3 anti-static spray product on all cable in system and CDs, and found, again, a distinct improvement in a quieter background, more 3D image presentation . . . Sounds like I'm a Nordost salesperson; I'm not. Only now I am truly beginning to understand how a high-definition system can respond to quality cables.

Jim Deland's picture

I have been upgrading my hardware in a major way lately. I was EXTREMELY skeptical about cable performance claims, so originally I put cable on the absolute bottom of my list of priorities. I was running a set of JMlab Grand Utopias with a Krell FPB 600 and 12g zip cord (!). Still, I was somewhat curious, so the other day when I had the opportunity to buy a used set of Transparent Ultra speaker cables, I took the bait just so I could hear for myself. I was expecting minor improvements, if any. The difference was nothing short of phenomenal. Count me among the converted---big time.

Scarlette Clarke (Mrs)'s picture

Differences are noted, especially if you have had the chance to experiment with various cables and systems.

Dr.HONG's picture

No need to comment!