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?

John Henshell's picture

Used to be a cable atheist; have a long story about learning the objective differences between cables.

Mark Thieme's picture

S-video cable replacing coax. Have not upgraded most cables---only problem children.

David Saia's picture

As an electrical engineer, I am still baffled that cables make such an obvious difference in the sound of audio systems---even short lengths.

Robert T.  Mosby Jr.'s picture

Very difficult for me to tell, but certainly remain unconvinced that the mega-expensive connects are worth it!

John Valvano's picture

After having auditioned several different brands, I just upgraded the interconnect in my system---from the digital front end to the Krell integrated---to MIT 330 Plus. It makes a huge difference in the sound. I am hearing things in the music I have never heard before. For those who say cables don't make a difference, all I can say is that they must have never listened to a system and just changed cables around. I have done this both in my home system and at audio dealers around the counrty, and there is always a difference in the sound. Whether or not a person likes the difference is a matter of personal taste. How much are you willing to pay for the improvement to the sound is also a matter of personal choice. I have my own limit; someone else will have theirs. A couple of years ago I would have told anybody thinking about spending $800 on cables they were insane. Now I can understand how someone would spend that kind of money and more on cables. It's all a matter of personal choice and taste.

Al Marcy's picture

Try lots and pick the ones you like. It is OK if you like the cheap, ugly ones, because audio is beautiful in the dark, too.

Henry Wong's picture

Suitable speaker cables and interconnects can make the system give its best performance.

Matt Gorski's picture

Noted the biggest differences in speaker-cable upgrades; more subtle changes in interconnects. Never had super hi-buck interconnects, though.

Marion Apostol's picture

I wouldn't spend megabucks on speaker cables, though; most of these so-called high-end cables are waaayyy overpriced anyway.

Mark Blackmore's picture

My system was merely good until I discovered MIT's Tube Terminators. Improved bass and spatial cues were most notable improvements.

David Gulliver's picture

Like all equipment, cables are governed by the law of diminishing returns. An upgrade from zip cord to an average high-quality speaker cable will give an audible difference even a skeptic can hear for just a few extra dollars. However, spending many hundreds or even thousands of dollars to obtain the finest cables on Earth will yield an improvement over the average high-quality cable so subtle that most listeners will be unable to detect it, and even seasoned audiophiles may miss it unless the entire system comprises top-notch components. I feel it is the hype over these ultra-high-cost cables that breeds the most skepticism. Their legitimate use is limited to only a handful of extremely high-end systems; therefore, less attention should be paid to them. I would like to see magazines such as Stereophile dedicate more print space to the merits of lower-cost yet still high-quality cables. Perhaps you should publish an in-depth article entitled "Cables: How much is enough?" After all, in an "average" system with a total value of, say, $5000, buying $100-$200 of new cables might be a good idea. Several thousand dollars' worth of new cables, however, is obviously not going to improve the system as much as an upgrade to some Class A or B electronics and speakers. Cables do indeed make a difference, but we must be realistic as to the magnitude of that difference compared to the cost.

Mark Swanson's picture

Even though I have never tried the super-high-end cables, I do know that my system is better with the upgrades I've made.

Taylor Reed's picture

And did you ever try extension cable wire when you were a kid? OK then.

James Warner's picture

I noticed the biggest difference in bass region with various cables. I finally settled on Tice Audio cables and interconnects after trying approximately 6 different speaker cables and 12 different brands and models of interconnects.

Julian Price's picture

Changed interconnect between tonearm & Levinson No.25s---dramatic change for the better. Changed an old MIT cable for new Discovery Plus 4; also changed between 25s & Levinson 380s to Plus 4.

Jay B.  Haider's picture

I noticed no difference from swapping speaker wire from Esoteric Audio "Streetwires" 12AWG to hyperbuck TARA Labs stuff, but a swap from Esoteric Audio Musica 500 to Esoteric Audio Art's interconnects severely cut noise in my system, and made an improvement commensurate with their cost.

Sam Chin's picture

Only if one were to go into bi-wiring---buying dedicated bi-wire cables as distinct from having two separates.

George Fotis's picture

It's kinda funny : I used van den Hul Clearwater speaker cable, and while using my CD player the difference was little; listening to my tuner, the difference was HUGE! I still cannot explain this. Can you?

MLP's picture

I auditioned cables with excruciating care for several sessions in the process of assembling an audiophile system, and I found the differences crucial to the appreciation of essential musical nuances. I ended up spending big bucks on cables.

R.  Anthony Pascal's picture

When I purchased a used Mark Levinson No.26 preamp, it came with a full complement of Madrigal interconnects as well as adapters for RCA connectors. The high-end cables are indistinguishable from even the cheapest wires, even though the other interconnects must suffer the extra "deterioration" produced by the adapters. I have had the same experience with speaker cables, although there it is important to have a large enough wire to minimize resistance.

T800D@aol.com's picture

Hearing is believing. For audiophiles like us, the sound quality is the ultimate goal. I believe cables are as important as the other components. However, cables should not cost as much as the main components in the system. It is kind of funny to find out what is inside the network box on such cables as MIT or Transparent. Has anyone ever taken a look at what is inside the magic boxes? Those cables cost too much. Moreover, they use copper for the conductor instead of silver! I can't believe that one can spend $9800 for a pair of copper-conductor speaker cables instead of the ones with silver conductor. Again, I dare everyone to take a look at what is inside those network boxes on some cables.

Chris Sandvick's picture

A move from the cable that comes with mid-fi systems to AudioQuest worked wonders.

Lawrence Gruber's picture

The gold-plated, higher-priced cables sold by RadioShack are the best! Anything else is a bloody waste of money.

Sphere's picture

Actually, I believe every system, even the most humble, significantly benefits from cable upgrades.

Greg Trelease's picture

However, with so many to choose from and the fact that cables are component-sensitive, how can one find the right one? Dealers lend out un-broken-in cables and seem disinterested. Most only carry two brands, limiting your choices unless you live in an area where hi-fi stores are abundant. Mail-order cable companies rip you off with their fees.

Bishop's picture

Sure, there's a difference. And no, I can't afford it.

Jim B.'s picture

Cables do make a difference! After 10 years and 5 incarnations of my system, cable matching has proven to be the finishing touch on every upgrade. Regardless, you have to face the fact of diminishing returns on cost vs. performance, and your cables should be commensurate with your components; i.e., Kimber PBJ is a fine interconnect, but it just didn't cut it between my Linn preamp and ML amp.

Willis Greenstreet's picture

As usual, the truth is between the extremes.

P.  Prior's picture

I have never heard a difference when blinded to cable being used (have tried a couple of times). (I don't claim to be an audiophile, however!)

Emmanuel Fonte's picture

Many times the equipment does not allow you to hear the subtle differences. Many times it does. Balance (not the three oin kind) is important, $ does not equal quality. Find the best within budget that makes things work for the entire system.