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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:05 pm 
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Location: San Jose, CA, US
Hello all! I am a new guy to the forums, but an self-proclaimed audiophile who started out in the 1990’s. I have improved my system so many times over the years and always for the better. A friend of mine who has way more invested in his system is a big fan of high-end cables. Haven't actually heard their quality but I didn't know how they stacked up against other cables. I would like to get some feedback from the forum readers? :?: :D


Last edited by MrModest on Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:54 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:00 pm
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Location: Ft. Myers, FL, US
Welcome to USAM and the forums.

As much as I would love to witness an all-out cable flame-war here in the forums, it ain't gonna happen. The forums here have yet to catch fire and that's a shame.

Every well-meaning audiophool has his own ideas and experiences when it comes to interconnects, speaker cables and power cords. Some guys think copper is copper and any well-designed and engineered cable with decent terminations will get the job done.

At the other end of the spectrum are guys who believe that super-esoteric cable designs with magnets, batteries and oil-dampening(!) are what's necessary to extract the most minute of musical information from a highly resolving audio system. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle but the important thing is to not get distracted by all of the hype surrounding the ongoing debate.

I think you'll discover that when it comes to cabling, system synergy is crucial because a given interconnect/speaker cable/power cord in one system may yield wildly different dividends/results in another system. Just try not to get caught up in the "money-invested-equals-performance" game. There are many fine affordable cable designs on the market so take the time that's necesssary to research what kind of cables work well with the specific components you have in your system. Unfortunately, to learn what you need to know will require you to explore the forums on other websites such as Canuck Audio Mart, AudiogoN, Audio Karma, Audio Asylum and the like.

If you're determined to take the full measure of your friends' Tara Labs cables, I would suggest that you borrow them from him if possible, perhaps when he's out of town on business or vacationing etc. If you like what you hear, then search for those same cables on the used market unless you're financially secure enough and have no problem paying full-retail. Most new high-end cables from the well established manufacturers, no matter how well they might perform, have an outrageously ridiculous MSRP that often times does not reflect the actual performance that they're capable of delivering. So if you always buy pre-owned cables, you'll generally recoup your investment if and when you decide to sell them in order to upgrade and/or audition other cables.

Have fun and remember: It's all about the music - not the gear. 8)

_________________
"If you ever injected truth into politics you'd have no politics." ~ Will Rogers


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:02 am
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
I like Analysis Plus cables and for the price, they are hard to beat. I have used this place (see my link below) many times. Their prices are quite good, service is top notch and you don't have to worry about any of their cables being knock offs! And they have cables for all types of budgets. Cheers

http://www.thecableco.com/


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:24 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:23 am
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Location: Lodi, OH, US
Oh boy,cable shopping can be costly. First thing you should do is figure out what type and gauge you want. I would look at 12 and 10 gauge speaker cables. High quality copper,silverplated copper or pure silver types. Then there's termination,gold,rhodium,silverplated or raw connections. I enjoy the Morrow cables myself.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:54 am 
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Location: San Francisco, CA, US
How do you define "high-end cable"? What makes sense for your system? If you use lamp cord for speaker wire on a $10K system, you might find some improvement by spending more. And the converse is true also. Or, if you're using some Monster speaker cables that cost a couple hundred bucks, you might find improvement by spending double that -- it's hard to know until you try. At a certain point, this whole hobby has an element of "black magic"; buying, selling, and trading until you find the right combination of components that sound right for your ears. Yes, it gets expensive, but if you're buying used cables of good reputation, you'll generally only spend more as you trade up. I recently swapped out a $300 VPI phono cable for a $1000 phono cable (from a very reputable manufacturer) on my Pro-Ject 10.2 Evo with Sumiko LOMC Blackbird and was blown away by the overall improvement in sound. How did that happen? I don't know, but you can bet I'll be selling the other cable and maybe putting it towards trying some new speaker cables.

Keep experimenting and sharing your findings. It's what makes this hobby so fun (and maddening at times).

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:27 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2005 11:09 am
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Location: Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CA
I always demo in my system,it's the only way you are going to know for sure.Some reputable cable manufacturers offer a limited home trial.Audio Horizons and Morrow come to mind.Most importantly always believe what your ears say not hearsay.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:45 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:34 pm
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Location: Santa Ana, CA, US
Now, now, hifijones, it’s not ALL about the music. The gear matters, too! Why is it when we “collect” music it’s perfectly acceptable to maintain a growing library, yet when we “collect” gear it’s considered an addiction and we relate it to a perpetual “merry-go-round?” I love the gear (ha!).

Hifijones left some very good advice, here. Not unlike good wines, with cables higher price does not necessarily equate to higher performance. I would stick with companies that have been around a while and have proven history. Stick with designs that are basically simple—no batteries, or magic boxes. Just cable. This is one philosophy I use to narrow my cable choices.

Two brands I like that offer nice mid-priced (a relative term, there!) cables are Kimber and DH Labs. I personally avoid ultra-high-end cable that are extraordinarily expensive. I am not saying you won’t realize a “tiny” improvement, but I am not convinced the expense is “worth” it and you may very well not realize any improvement. (We’re back to that relative determination as to what is expensive?)

The problem with cables is that you have to buy multiple cables to wire up your system, so it all adds up.

Seek out some Audioholics videos regarding cables. They make some interesting comments about cable marketing “wizard-like” claims.

Finally, I’ll say this. It seems that when equipment manufacturers (Bryston, McIntosh, SVS, etc.) venture into the cable business, their cables are usually reasonably priced. Maybe that says something.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:39 am 
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Location: North Haven, CT, US
I have found that cables make a significant difference in the sonics, this after 33 years of having used them. I could fairly easily hear the sound of the cables in my system, but I do want to say that I started out with WATTs in 1986, so hearing speaker cables/interconnects was very easy with WATTS/Goldmund/Jadis/Convergent gear.
The tricky thing is determining if the cable is exposing flaws in the preceding components, or masking previously unheard flaws. That's the part that - after the burn in period, which for Nordost and Shunyata cables, is around 3 weeks of non-stop playing (and that's a pain if it's the speaker cable, because unless you have a cable cooker, you are going to have to play music. And it's not my imagination: I was an editor for the late, lamented Fi Magazine, and I'd have to help set up equipment and listen, and given what my boss had (Grand Slams, Rockport, Jadis, Transparent cables), I could hear any change, such as removing the cables from touching an AC cord when he had a demonstration of his system at his home in Marin County (where the rich don't itch!) in front of **** Bel of Bel amps, and the Managing Editor - at the time - of The Absolute Sound, Sallie Reynolds and my mentor, Tom Miller. And the difference between removing an ac cord from the vicinity of the cable was heard instantly by all (the upper midrange edginess disappeared). So, if you've got cables touching each other at home, you're not even going to hear the differences in cables, and I suspect that this is, in large part, why so many people disparage high end cables. I've been to stores in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Hartford and it was appalling how many retailers paid ZERO attention to how their cords touched each other. It made me angry that they were actually causing the equipment to operate at sub-optimal levels. And I see it in a store here whenever I go in (which is why I don't go in much any more: I can barely keep my fingers off the cables to re-arrange them, but I can tell you this: I have free run of that store, so one day, I re-arranged the Nordost Odin ac cables to be as far away from the signal cables as possible. The difference was very obvious to me - AND them. But they said it was 'too much trouble' to keep components set up correctly. Now, THERE'S a good 'sales attitude' for ya.)
For non top-of-the-world cost cables: Alpha Core Goertz Divinity and MI-3 cables are excellent. They image well, have a very good tonal balance and extremely low noise floor. TAS, back in 1998, tested them both, and Harry found them so close to Nordost, he wasn't sure he could reliably tell which was which (except, he said, the Goertz had better mid-bass). After he switched to vinyl, he was more able to hear the differences reliably. Also, Nordost Heimdall is very good (not saying this is cheap. The Goertz was what I'd call 'reasonable' after having purchased Valhalla back then (2004) and found the Goertz indistinguishable from the Valhalla. And I had it for months, as I was writing a review on it for Ultra Audio.
Expensive cable does make a difference, but others are right: you must hear them in your own system (and keep your bloody hands off of them once you have them optimally positioned. Even moving them around will cause the sound to blur a little (use a vocalist, and female works the best, and you'll hear Streisand, Garland, Fitzgerald lose a modicum of expressiveness. Not heard to hear on unprocessed vocals, unlike anything after 1973). And allow them to "settle" for 2 hours before playing music. (Try not to argue with this point until you've actually done it, okay?) Or maybe one hour, but Shunyata and Nordost cables? It'll be two hours before the optimum sound emerges.
And yes, the synergy counts, but more many, it's compensating for other things they bought before trying out cables.
And don't even ask about power cords, because yes, regardless of what you hear, they change the sonics. Shunyata's current Alpha line is wonderful, but slightly less perfect in the upper bass/lower midrange, although they will just say, 'if you want a warmer sound, the CX is good..." The problem with that is that the CX line casts ITS coloration over the entire spectrum, so everything sounds warmer. Don't expect to listen to Janis Joplin and Big Brother and hear the guitars scream and growl: they'll sound warmer with a CX cord, and more true with an Alpha, but the Alpha will still leach out some of the natural color of a guitar or cello.
OY!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:34 pm
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Location: Santa Ana, CA, US
gbmcleod,

I am glad to see you mention the Alpha Core cables. I have also used their cables and found them quite nice. I agree that the bulk of their cables (copper) are reasonably priced and offer darn good performance and value. I’ve used a run of their speaker cable and some of their interconnects with pleasing results.

It is always interesting to hear from someone who has extensive experience with lots of different equipment (reviewers; dealers). As hobbyists, most of us don’t get to experience a plethora of different gear (on that same level), or it takes us years to gain exposure to an abundance of different gear—and then the process is slow, so one can’t always make “direct” comparisons.

I find it most intriguing that you compared the Goertz to Valhalla (definitely expensive cable!!!) with excellent results! That’s the kind of value we “centsible” audiophiles are looking for.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:44 am 
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@gbmcloud, fascinating post. Thanks for taking the time, I would never have paid enough attention to cable dressing without such help.

You state "the CX line casts ITS coloration over the entire spectrum". Pardon my ignorance, what is ITS coloration ?


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