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?

Brian R.  Smith's picture

I've found cables make a bigger difference than digital gear does.

TonyF@IJ.net's picture

As with all other pieces of equipment, interconnects and speaker cables are very system-dependent. You need to experiment to find that magic combination that combines affordability and performance.

Wayne Plager's picture

Cables do make a difference, easily as much as a component upgrade. When upgrading from a seven-year-old CD player to a transport and DAC, I rewired the entire system with upgraded cables. The cables cost approximately the same, and made at least as big a difference. I used the spouse as the arbiter between new and old systems, with and without new cables, she can hear a noticeable improvement with both.

David Napolillo's picture

I upgraded my speaker wires with two pairs each of AudioQuest Midnights for my bi-amp configuration. Big difference. All of my interconnects are via AudioQuest Emeralds. Again, big difference. Most of the gain was in soundstage, which was what I was after---so I believe it was money well spent.

David Beam's picture

I've never heard any difference between good-quality interconnects. Though you might convince me that some "golden-ear audiophile" might discern a difference, I'm convinced that the money would be better spent on speakers or electronics, where the difference is significant.

Bob Gerard's picture

Almost as important as source provider---CD drive or LP turntable.

Anonymous's picture

Try AudioQuest.

Ken Eder's picture

I have built several power amps and preamps for myself, and upgraded even more for others, with high-quality wire (in all cases, Cardas), and have experienced a dramatic improvement in sonic clarity and dynamics. Others have said they experienced the same result after the Cardas-wire upgrade.

Austin Audu's picture

Try a Purist Audio Elementa or any TARA Labs cables (reasonably priced ones) before spending too much. Cables make a great difference, but are usually overpriced.

John Pattison's picture

I have found cables to make a worthy difference in my system (value = $7000). Cable differences are most detectable in high-resolution systems that can reveal subtle changes. Anyone with a low-cost system will probably not hear much of a difference in cabling. However, better-designed cables manufactured with superior materials make a difference in a high-quality system. As an analogy, try looking at the moon with a $200 telescope on a clear night vs. a slightly hazy night. You may see differences, but they will be slight due to the poor resolution of the telescope. Then try looking at the moon with a $2000 telescope under the same conditions. You will see more detail no matter what the conditions, but the clear night will reveal extraordinary clarity and detail.

Dennis Jarchow's picture

All I ended up with when I upgraded to "the best-sounding interconnect under $100" was a broken RCA jack on my CD player from trying to unhook my unbelievably tight-fitting new cables. Then, when I tried to loosen up the cable end, it broke too. Oh yeah, the only change in the sound I noticed was that it was harder to hear the music now over my complaining about wasting my money on hundreds of dollars in interconnects that I could have spent on music.

Henry Kus's picture

Cables make a subtle difference, especially when changing other system components. However, once some degree of system stability is reached, the improvement in performance becomes a difference rather than an improvement. Also, improvements in sound as a function of $ cost seem to max out far earlier than for other components. I could NEVER see myself spending more than $1000 (interconnects and speaker cable), regardless of the cost of the rest of the system.

victor erbring's picture

Sure, I heard a small difference going from zip cord to AQ Type 10, but seriously---spend money on better speakers! The speakers are what make the sound, and should be treated as THE most important piece of equipment in any system!

Ken So's picture

I upgraded interconnects, and the sound upgrade was noticeable right away, and even better after a break-in period. The upgrade in interconnects was a cost-effective upgrade to my system. I bought some van den Hul speaker wire, and after a lengthy break-in period, I would say the sound had improved, but I find it hard to justify the price I paid for them.

J.E.  Piriz's picture

Cables clearly have a unique voicing effect on systems which have the capability to resolve such differences. Some differences are subtle. Other differences are more obvious. In any case, the bottom line is that, if you can't hear an improvement in YOUR system, it probably isn't worth the investment. Listen first. Some low- to medium-priced cables out there produce very impressive results approaching, and in some cases exceeding, the performance of more expensive products. More cost is not always better sound.

John Rambo's picture

Spending extra money on expensive speaker cable is a waste of time and money!!

Paul Malkoski's picture

BIG difference. I tested---and heard the differences among---10 interconnects in my system before selecting Audio Magic Sorcerer. You have to try out a number to really hear how they compare.

Mike Barnes's picture

I can't understand how anyone with quality equipment can't hear a difference, unless they always audition cables that are mismatched to their systems. Doesn't the Law of Averages say you'd at least occasionally pick one that matched, though?

Steve Dudley's picture

Just buy cables with good connecters on them. Banana plugs work every bit as good as spades. Anyone who says otherwise is full of it. Claims for wires and other similar products just keep people away from the "high end"---that, and the ridiculouly high prices.

Carl Flygare's picture

The price/performance ratio of cables (interconnects or speaker) degrades much more quickly than that of other "audiophile" components. And the cable industry, as a whole, deserves the "floobie-dust" award for the most outlandish claims backed by the least objective, or subjective for that matter, evidence.

Dana Grigg's picture

Nelson Pass has an excellent write-up about speaker cable on his web page: www.passlabs.com.

Dan Kalamaras's picture

The differences are so small, and the ear becomes accustomed to the changes in a small time, that any money spent is a waste in the long run. Better to spend the money on LPs, CDs, or a better set of speakers.

Ray Kasprzak's picture

Nothing but snake oil!

Mark Dunn's picture

It's not a matter of whether type X or type Y is better, or whether one is PTFE-coated etc., etc. It's which one works synergistically as a circuit component in your system! Until there is a paradigm shift toward that level of understanding, we're pretty much wasting our time and money.

Music Lover's picture

In reference to Transparent's expensive but excellent cables (which are now the only cables in my system), in the words of my local dealer: "Your dead grandmother can hear the difference!!"

Rick Bishop's picture

I recently borrowed/tested high-grade interconnects in my system. I wound up replacing the cables between my sources and preamp---the biggest "Bang for the Buck." I was surprised by the difference they made. Cables between my preamp and amp, and speaker cables, offered only subtle enhancements. Worth the bucks??? Definitely the source. The others---maybe not.

Claude Biron's picture

They make a bigger difference than I would ever have imagined, provided the system is detailed and sensitive enough to expose the differences.

Poj Udomlapsakul's picture

Yes, it makes a difference. But I don't think it is the first thing we should upgrade in our systems. In my country, Thailand, vendors don't let us try the cable before buying, so I'm not interested in upgrading my cable anymore unless they will let me try it first.

Jeff Loney's picture

Are many high-end audio stores equipped to demonstrate the differences ? Probably not worth the effort, when compared to the profit potential of a complete system. Yet I would be interested to hear of examples of "brave souls" in the business who are willing to make such an effort for their customers.

Daniel Terry's picture

As long as you use balanced lines and balanced connectors, it will make a difference.