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Are expensive interconnects really worth the extra bucks?


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I’ve never been a big endorser of cables, but I have spent money on them. The only time I practically did a blind test was the time I had someone come over with a Chord Hugo 2 for me to try. Being that that DAC is fussy with cable connectors, I had to use my 2qutes VDH cable on the hugo2 and put a wire world cable ($600ish) on my 2qute. I had been listening to the 2 qute with that VDH cable ($500) for two years, so I was familiar with it. Anyway, did the AB’s with the 2 DAC’s and he went home after with the Hugo. For some reason, I didn’t put my VDH cable back on my 2qute, and the wireWorld stayed on for 2 weeks, I simply, forgot about it.  One night, 2 weeks later, I played my favorite Tesseract album, an album I’ve heard on my system hundreds of times, no exaggeration (first time in that 2 week period). It wasn’t sounding right at all, terrible actually. So I went all through my pre-pro’s audio settings, and everything was fine there, listened a while longer, yeah nah, something a miss. Got out of bed, looked around and noticed a different cable hanging out of my DAC (it’s up high so it’s not that I see it daily) so I changed it out with its original VDH and it was back to normal. So you can say that was a blind test, I hadn’t noticed a difference with any other album until that one, but it was enough of a difference for me to get annoyed that something wasn’t right. 
This is one reason why you need reference points when system testing. 

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After spending well over a decade of making cables and trialing expensive cables, in my experience there is a vast difference in sound between cables.  So the answer is yes.    Many nights blind testi

I think I should butt in here    Many of the cables out there are simple bought in commercial cable, throw a bit of techflex on it, call it their own brand and hey presto you can charge what

Isn’t that what SNA is supposed to be about 

On 11/10/2020 at 3:55 PM, aussievintage said:

I would use better quality cables, looking for benefits like better shielding, lower capacitance/resistance, general robustness, and even looks.  You can get that cheaper than $250.

Agreed in that order, shielding, low capacitance for long runs, material (silver/copper), build quality and then last - look/bling factor.  I find it very hard to personally justify the cost of cables over a couple of hundred dollars, but in this hobby, how deep is your wallet to chase that last 5% of performance.....

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In my system and others I found moving to quality IC's and speaker cables transforming to a level that would easily be picked in a BT.

 

Most accept that IC's and SC's can make a significant difference.

 

But then some people hear no difference in sound with amps and DAC's/Players, so YMMV.

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19 minutes ago, muon* said:

In my system and others I found moving to quality IC's and speaker cables transforming to a level that would easily be picked in a BT.

 

I know  that even asking is frowned on :( in most forums, but it would be a very good thing if someone like you, who experiences such obvious and large changes, would actually do and document such a DBT.  That's what someone was asking a few posts back.  Surely someone somewhere has done it and posted about it?

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Personally I do not need any form of blind testing to know what I like.

 

As to whether 'expensive' interconnects 'are really worth the extra bucks', that question is one for the prospective buyer, as is the case with any discretionary purchase. Fortunately Aurealis allows trying before buying, so an answer is easily obtained without risk.

 

As to my own preferences, I found the R1 Dragon ICs (and the Lenehan FoilFlex SCs) made a substantial and pleasing contribution to the sound quality of my system. 

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3 minutes ago, gemini07 said:

Personally I do not need any form of blind testing to know what I like.

 

As to whether 'expensive' interconnects 'are really worth the extra bucks', that question is one for the prospective buyer, as is the case with any discretionary purchase. Fortunately Aurealis allows trying before buying, so an answer is easily obtained without risk.

Exactly.

Any in home trial will give people the answers they need and speaking for myself alone, I am not sufficiently insecure as to require a DBT.

 

The actual title of this thread implies the question as to whether better cables are worthwhile and /or good value to the individual purchaser.

I personally know people who have tried better quality cables in their own system and found that the expenditure was not necessary or sufficiently beneficial, in their situation.

Any example in my own situation was when I tried a few power cables that were heavily promoted and found no improvement whatsoever in my system, whereas the speaker and IC cables which I now own, and use, were a revelation and an easy choice.

 

This isn't life and death people, it is about enjoyment.

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2 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

I know  that even asking is frowned on :( in most forums, but it would be a very good thing if someone like you, who experiences such obvious and large changes, would actually do and document such a DBT.  That's what someone was asking a few posts back.  Surely someone somewhere has done it and posted about it?

Given I have no compulsion to convert someone that is skeptical on such matters there is little to motivate me to do something that I see as a waste of my time. Those tests are not simple if you want to do it correctly also, and there are some like myself that see too many flaws in such testing mythologies when pertaining to audio.

 

Such tests are for those that take large stock in those methods and are undecided.

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I buy good cables because I like nicer things. We all know how crap those red white and yellow cables that come with DVD. Players look. The cables I have are around the $500 mark and look lovely coming out of my gear, and they apparently do something also as I mentioned above. 
this is for audio only, not power. I just use the basic isoteck ones for that, and simply because in my situation, they cable manage better. 

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On 11/10/2020 at 8:22 PM, Bill125812 said:

After spending well over a decade of making cables and trialing expensive cables, in my experience there is a vast difference in sound between cables.  So the answer is yes.    Many nights blind testing cables has 100% confirmed that.  But what I will say, is that price isn’t always the defining parameter.   
 

Fortunately I’ve pulled apart many commercial cables to find out that the cable they use isn’t what they claim or isn’t worth any where near the price they charge.

 

The reason I started making my Affordable yet high quality cables. 

22 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

I've always disagreed with this type of thinking.

 

If someone has $500 amp and $500 speakers .... I'd say, use a good quality cable.... they cost about $200.

If someone has $2000 amp and $10000 spekers .... I'd say use a good quality cable.... they cost about $200

If someone remotgaged their house to buy speakers .... I'd say use a good quality cable.....  ;) 

I bought some of Bill's cables - are you saying they're no good because they are not in the $200 range?

 

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Though I don’t own any, feedback suggests that Bill’s cables are artificially inexpensive for their performance, similar to Clay’s DACs. I’m sure if they had to factor in warehousing, distribution costs, marketing etc. they would still be great but perhaps as the giants, rather than the giant-killers

 

impossible (and mostly pointless) to quantify but maybe their value proposition is more akin to 2nd hand, rather than new brand name products or at least something in between?

Edited by RankStranger
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21 hours ago, Hawk66 said:

Thanks for all the comments!  This forum is such a great vehicle for getting a good dose of diverse and mixed responses, which is exactly what I was after.  As  a result I have now been introduced to Bill from QLD who is making me some boutique cables that are not going to result in me having to mortgage the house.   Buying from the member network and from Aussie sellers is so satisfying.  Thanks once again for all the passionate comments.

Cables from Bill are perfect for any system. Cheap and well made.  There are a lot more expensive and degrading to the sound cables out there.

Speaker and interconnect Cables make a difference but NOT a big enough of difference to spend a lot of money.

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1 hour ago, RankStranger said:

Though I don’t own any, feedback suggests that Bill’s cables are artificially inexpensive for their performance,

Perhaps they are the right price.  I suspect he is doing OK at his price.  It's the others that are artifically expensive.

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5 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

Perhaps they are the right price.  I suspect he is doing OK at his price.  It's the others that are artifically expensive.

That was my (poorly made) point. It was no judgement on what he does or what the big names do. Merely an observation that the business models are vastly different and it’s probably not useful to hold one against the other for certain metrics

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

Perhaps they are the right price.  I suspect he is doing OK at his price.  It's the others that are artifically expensive.

I'd definitely say under priced.

 

What you term as artificially expensive in the lower price end is correct pricing if running a business where you need feed your family.

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If you can find some 2nd hand Gary Cawsey 75 ohm interconnects then snap them up.    I have 3 pair I don’t currently use but never giving them up.

 

Regards Cazzesman

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13 minutes ago, muon* said:

What you term as artificially expensive in the lower price end is correct pricing.

No it's not, but then I don't know how you know what I was thinking that price point might be. :) 

 

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45 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

No it's not, but then I don't know how you know what I was thinking that price point might be. :) 

 

Plain to see it in the context of your post, as it reads like anything above Bill's prices are artificially expensive.

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I think I should butt in here 

 

Many of the cables out there are simple bought in commercial cable, throw a bit of techflex on it, call it their own brand and hey presto you can charge whatever you like    I certainly do that with my basic range. Buy in Van Damme or Canare ( have never hidden that fact ) and sell  it at a reasonable price.  I don’t see a problem with that, as it gives people a good cable at a reasonable price

 

BUT   My boutique cables are built from the ground up. Buying pure copper or silver wire. Treading them through tubing, covering them in copper foil.  Nothing but the plug bought from a cable co.  And I can still charge a reasonable price.  Yes I do make some dollars on these cables.  Enough to feed my family I suppose, but I work long hours to do so.    
 

The reality is that many companies rip people off I’m sad to say.   I do this because I like to build cables.  Yes orders may take some time to get to you, as I can only do this on weekends and nights.   But the joy people get out of them and the messages of thanks I get are just a joy 
 

I suppose what I’m saying is that price only is Not what you should look at.  Read reviews.   Make the judgement yourself.  
 

Expensive  cable may not sound better.   Some just like to say that have  a triple Kryo cable made on the left side of  Silicon Valley, dipped in nitrogen and blessed by the Dalai Lama  And costs 10k.    And good luck to them if they can afford it. But does it actually sound better. Mmmm 
 

 

End of rant 

 

Edited by Bill125812
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2 minutes ago, Bill125812 said:

I think I should butt in here 

 

Many of the cables out there are simple bought in commercial cable, throw a bit of techflex on it, call it their own brand and hey presto you can charge whatever you like    I certainly do that with my basic range. Buy in Van Damme or Canare ( have never hidden that fact ) and sell  it at a reasonable price.  I don’t see a problem with that, as it gives people a good cable at a reasonable price

 

BUT   My boutique cables are built from the ground up. Buying pure copper or silver wire. Treading them through tubing, covering them in copper foil.  Nothing but the plug bought from a cable co.  And I can still charge a reasonable price.  Yes I do make some dollars on these cables.  Enough to feed my family I suppose, but I work long hours to do so.    
 

The reality is that many companies rip people off I’m sad to say.   I do this because I like to build cables.  Yes orders may take some time to get to you, as I can only do this on weekends and nights.   But the joy people get out of then and the messages of thanks I get are just a joy 
 

I suppose what I’m saying is that price only is Not what you should look at.  Read reviews.   Make the judgement yourself.  
 

Expensive  cable may not sound better.   Some just like to say that have  a triple Kryo cable made on the left side of  Silicon Valley, dipped in nitrogen and blessed by the Dalai Lama  And costs 10k.    And good luck to them if they can afford it. But does it actually sound better. Mmmm 
 

 

End of rant 

 

very much enjoying your cables, Bill.  And appreciative of the fact you could justifiably charge more, but chose to be a community member here..

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Just now, scuzzii said:

very much enjoying your cables, Bill.  And appreciative of the fact you could justifiably charge more, but chose to be a community member here..

Isn’t that what SNA is supposed to be about 

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9 minutes ago, Bill125812 said:

Isn’t that what SNA is supposed to be about 

You had me at “supposed”......😀
 

You make me want to buy your cables.......😀👍

Edited by Ray H
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It seems to me that a lot of the expensive cables are made to sound deliberately different from the norm.Which some people with some systems will conclude is better.The best example of that I have heard is Jorma Prime .The XLR interconnects retail at about $13000 a set.They sound very weird.Almost like something is out of phase and perhaps it is !Very strange stuff happens to the imaging with that cable which I guess some people might like.

Another cable with specific type of sound is Antipodes Reference .That is by no means a bad cable but it is nothing like neutral.Also the Accuphase Super Refined which is an excellent cable in my opinion and one that is relatively affordable has a typical "Accuphase" house sound.If you have owned Accuphase products in the past you will identify that straight away.

 

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Cables absolutely change they way your system can sound. Digital or Analog. 

But as always, its highly subjective and you need to set your own limits.

 

Most of my cable cores come from Belden, Mogami, Canare, Koltz etc. 

They sound great to me, and are good enough for the best recording studios.  

I also have many DIY versions.

 

Without poking the bear, I also dislike silver interconnects. 

 

Look at the end of the day, so many elements impact system synergy.

Playing with cables is just another weapon to exploit. 

 

There are so many elements that come into play when matching cables to hardware:

- Impedance matching

- Shielded vs non shielded 

- Length 

- Termination quality & type. I.e. crimp, solder, compression, etc 

- System tonality

- System resolution

- Your mix of hardware

- System/ In Room frequency response

 

IMO, a cable simply acts as a conductor of signal and antenna for noise.

Switching cables just balances/manipulates that ratio. 

 

DSP (can) in many cases, make cable swapping irrelevant.  

Edited by musicbee
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17 hours ago, Cloth Ears said:

I bought some of Bill's cables - are you saying they're no good because they are not in the $200 range?

No.  Bill is a very charitable fella  ;) 

 

It was just a ballpark number.... hopefully you saw the point I was trying to make.

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25 minutes ago, davewantsmoore said:

No.  Bill is a very charitable fella  ;) 

 

It was just a ballpark number.... hopefully you saw the point I was trying to make.

I did, but someone else was trying to make the same point with a percentage figure. All are good points, but probably shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, typing (emails, posts, tweets) are such a bad form of communication that differences appear where there are none...

 

Peace (until the next time, of course 😊)

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I have a bit of a Harvey Twoface opinion on the matter.
Science and reason part of my brain: No, as long as you don't buy $2 shite from China, you'll be fine. And use balanced where needed and unbalanced where needed for analog, match Ohms for digital, clock correctly etc etc.

Audiophile woo part of my brain: Gold connectors! Shiny cables! Oxygenised copper!

So I tend to get quality cables where I can, and where I feel there's a benefit. I don't spend bank on cables for my old analog synths with unbalanced TS connections, though.

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9 minutes ago, Spikey699 said:

Audiophile woo part of my brain: Gold connectors! Shiny cables! Oxygenised copper!

So I tend to get quality cables where I can, and where I feel there's a benefit.

 

It's as good a reason as any.  But, don't you mean Oxygen-free copper? 

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Just now, aussievintage said:

But, don't you mean Oxygen-free copper? 

That raised a flag in my head also, but I just assumed that it was a simple error which we all make from time to time.

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Just now, rantan said:

That raised a flag in my head also, but I just assumed that it was a simple error which we all make from time to time.

OK, apologies if I sounded picky.  Hard to sound light-hearted in text.

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2 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

OK, apologies if I sounded picky.  Hard to sound light-hearted in text.

All good mate. I was making light of it as  well.:)

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On 13/10/2020 at 4:15 PM, Bill125812 said:

Expensive  cable may not sound better. Some just like to say that have a triple Kryo cable made on the left side of  Silicon Valley, dipped in nitrogen and blessed by the Dalai Lama  And costs 10k.    And good luck to them if they can afford it. But does it actually sound better. Mmmm

End of rant

Careful words like this might be considered Lampooning in these parts.

9_9

 

Ahem, I recently tried to get my old man to upgrade to what I use which are these: https://www.jaycar.com.au/2-x-rca-plugs-to-2-x-rca-plugs-1-5m/p/WQ7226 (Jaycar Concord $21.95) as his current as cheap as they come interconnects have gone rusty on the connectors.

He refused, citing that they are too expensive!

😆

Edited by Satanica
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You can get better quality on interconnects in the $100 - $250 price, and I am happy to pay for quality in that price range.

 

I used to have a First Watt J2, and that amplifier took down so many ideas and expectations I had about expensive components in sound quality: The J2 sounded perfect to me, connected to a pair of picky speakers, with the cheapest cables I had.

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I've never seen non oxygen free copper advertised :D

 

I believe it is all OFC, even the cheap stuff.

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Yeah, my mistake gents. I used to run a RadioShack store when I lived in the US, Monster cables various claims must have finally gotten to me!

One company I miss for the time I lived there was Monoprice. They made cheap no nonsense cables, but also had a 'quality' line which was still cheap as chips, but with gold connectors, better durability etc. Haven't found an equivalent here, although Swamp is decent.

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On 10/10/2020 at 7:25 PM, Hawk66 said:

This is not a dorothy dixa type query but I am always keen to improve the sound I listen to from my system.  I am keen to hear about the experiences from members who have upgraded to expensive (> $250) interconnects between phono / amp / turntable in particular.  Was there a wow moment?

Certainly have had a number of "Wow" moments when swapping Interconnects. They've made a an extremely cost effective improvement in many systems of my own and plenty of other's I've set-up. I don't think anyone has asked what Components you have as there is definitely a "Synergy" factor, (same as with Speaker & Power Cables). And yes as a few mention some Cables are better "Value" than some others.

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4 hours ago, Spikey699 said:

Yeah, my mistake gents. I used to run a RadioShack store when I lived in the US, Monster cables various claims must have finally gotten to me!

One company I miss for the time I lived there was Monoprice. They made cheap no nonsense cables, but also had a 'quality' line which was still cheap as chips, but with gold connectors, better durability etc. Haven't found an equivalent here, although Swamp is decent.

Yeah, Monster have a rep', just not the rep' a company would want, or a cable a customer would like ;) IMO.

 

I prefer a quality copper or copper alloy connector myself, I'm OK with a silver plating if It's of a similar quality.

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9 hours ago, initforthemusic said:

Certainly have had a number of "Wow" moments when swapping Interconnects. They've made a an extremely cost effective improvement in many systems of my own and plenty of other's I've set-up. I don't think anyone has asked what Components you have as there is definitely a "Synergy" factor, (same as with Speaker & Power Cables). And yes as a few mention some Cables are better "Value" than some others.

I've had a couple of 'wow' moments, but they were negative, rather than positive. One was with those things which had a huge sealed box on them - and the moment was "wow, where did the highs go?". The opposite with another high-priced item was "wow, that's bright!". Which probably accounts for my general antipathy regarding expensive wires of all descriptions. Yes, there's a benefit from replacing any black & white generic RCA items, and there's definitely a benefit for having different cables for analog and other (digital/PCM/etc.) due to the needs at each end of the connection. But that's about as far as my search will lead me.

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