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Seeking education about those ultra-expensive interconnects

post #1 of 2598
Thread Starter 
As the debate rages on and the jury probably won't be back for some time, I have a question about those ultra-expensive inter-connect cables. You know, the ones that cost anywhere from $50 per cable to $5000+ per cable.
There are two camps: One that says they make all the difference in the world and if you aren't running them, your missing out and your system doesn't sound as good. The other camp says they are a waste of money and just use any old inter-connect cable.

For the moment I lean towards the second group except for my own experiences.
I'm of the following opinion: Inter-connect cables can make a difference in the obvious, but how far do they or can they go? Example, I used to run whatever cables came with the gear or the rat shack jobs. Then one day I switched over to Monoprice premium RCA inter-connects and it made a noticeable difference, but not totally in sound quality except to say that much RF interference was gone and the build quality of the cables is superior. I don't disconnect and re-connect much, I set up my gear and stay put unless I'm adding or taking away something. So the cables don't see much action. That said though I have had the flimsy cables I used to use give out on me for no reason.
I'm not saying the Monoprice premium inter-connects are the very best as I think the Blue Jean stuff is a step above that, but is it worth it?
That's my question. I'd like to hear from folks without bias or desperate justification for spending more on inter-connects then their entire system. I'm looking for clinical scientific fact data I guess on the merits of buying ultra-expensive inter-connects. I'm not putting down those who have spent the money on those expensive inter-connects at all. Those folks I want to hear from as well, but without bias please. Surely some of you may have the info I seek. I'm not trying to start another war. That's not the purpose of my inquiry. The purpose of my inquiry is to be educated on this and to check my own conclusions thus far.
I'd like to see evidence that those ultra-expensive cables make more than a subtle difference or indeed an imaginary perceptive difference. Of course we all hear things differently, what sounds like crap to one person is heaven to another.

I'm also of the philosophy that inter-connect cables alone do not make a system sound good or better. It's like a computer: garbage in, garbage out. If one has great uber-interconnects, great electronics and speakers, but poorly produced media, it's going to sound bad. If one has great uber interconnects, cheap electronics, decent media and poor speakers, it's going to sound bad. If one has great interconnects, good electronics, good media and poor speakers, it's going to sound bad and so-on and so-forth.

Let's pretend that I have the money for those ultra expensive interconnects. I'd like to use my own set-up as a base for this question: I have an Onkyo TX-R705 (Decent receiver, but not an Integra), Onkyo C-390 CD player (pretty good DAC in that thing) and let's say Paradigm Studio 100s v5 with DIY high-end 14 gauge speaker cables. (I'm really running 1985 Kenwood JPL-690s with standard oxygen-free 18 gauge speaker wire, the Paradigms are on the bench of you will, but let's assume the Paradigms for this).
Now with that set-up (as opposed to decent separates), would there be any noticeable difference or improvement if I were to run the expensive interconnects instead of the Monoprice premiums?

PS. I'm also curious about this because I have been to a couple of meetings if an Audiophile club and was totally put down (and off I might ad) by the folks there slamming my set-up calling it garbage just because I was not running $1400 interconnects and speaker cables. I didn't pay much attention to them because I felt they had no clue as to what an audiophile is, but it did peak my curiosity about their rabid adherence to the ultra-expensive cables and slamming anyone who doesn't run them.
post #2 of 2598
Regardless of one's stance wrt cables, take even the most ardent supporters of such cables, and assume for a moment what they say is true,..ie high end cables make a subtle difference to the presentation. Now, one must determine whether this change is either a positive or negative step toward a better reproduction. Now, say it was better, ...even this would be infinitesimally small compared to merely moving one's head a few inches. My point being is that there are much more important aspects that one should spend time on within this hobby. Optimizing the speaker/room interface is key.

Good speakers properly optimized within the room's acoustic is what really matters. So, in my opinion, move along to something that can actually benefit you and your enjoyment of your system.


This is a terrific read on the subject from a frequent AVS contributer.

Here is another good read.
post #3 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

As the debate rages on and the jury probably won’t be back for some time

The jury came in years ago, and their verdict was conclusive. Cable is a low tech device that is trivial to measure. If there's even a subtle audible difference, it will show up using the standard tests for frequency response etc. This is not to say that all wire is the same, because some wires really are incompetent. But it's usually the expensive wires that screw up the sound, not the cheap stuff.

Not to editorialize too much, but fretting over wires while ignoring half a dozen 30 dB peak / null spans due to poor room acoustics is a perfect example of swatting at gnats while ignoring the charging elephants.

--Ethan
post #4 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Good logical responses so far. I'll be reading the provided info as soon as I have a chance.
So far it seems that my conclusions are on target.
No, I do not plan on trying to save up and run out and buy such cables any time soon unless they would make a huge difference and logically, I don't see it and doubt I ever will no mater what gear I have.
post #5 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FOH View Post

Regardless of one's stance wrt cables, take even the most ardent supporters of such cables, and assume for a moment what they say is true,..ie high end cables make a subtle difference to the presentation. Now, one must determine whether this change is either a positive or negative step toward a better reproduction. Now, say it was better, ...even this would be infinitesimally small compared to merely moving one's head a few inches. My point being is that there are much more important aspects that one should spend time on within this hobby. Optimizing the speaker/room interface is key.

Good speakers properly optimized within the room's acoustic is what really matters. So, in my opinion, move along to something that can actually benefit you and your enjoyment of your system.


This is a terrific read on the subject from a frequent AVS contributer.

Here is another good read.

I've always advocated that the speakers, the source (and the acoustical qualities of the room) are the backbone and most important parts of a system.
The Roger-russell thing has been presented to me before, but I personally find it somewhat confusing and cumbersome as he gets into using all these switch things and wire gadgets and such to improve sound.
post #6 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

The jury came in years ago, and their verdict was conclusive. Cable is a low tech device that is trivial to measure. If there's even a subtle audible difference, it will show up using the standard tests for frequency response etc. This is not to say that all wire is the same, because some wires really are incompetent. But it's usually the expensive wires that screw up the sound, not the cheap stuff.

Not to editorialize too much, but fretting over wires while ignoring half a dozen 30 dB peak / null spans due to poor room acoustics is a perfect example of swatting at gnats while ignoring the charging elephants.

--Ethan

Do you think capacitance is a big important factor? I've heard that mentioned somewhere and I think it would be a more pressing factor in speaker cables as opposed to interconnects. I could be dead wrong. Personally, I think shielding is at least one of the most important factors in cables especially in a heavy RF area like mine.
post #7 of 2598
Cables can and do make a difference but some make none. But with most any cable its just about the last step in a long list of thing to be taken care before one is even ready to do a honest evaluation. The gear, its synergy, the room, proper placement and setup, power issues and other aspects are to be addresed prior to all but a modest cable investment. Now once you got all that done try some cables from loaner websites and see what happens, dont plan on miracles but do hope to squeeze out the last couple percent if sound from your rig... or leave alone if you wish, expensive cables hurt nobody tho many crusade against them as if they banged their wife.
I dont care who thinks what but there is a childish wolfpack that I would bet the majority have no business talking on the subject, its just a cool kids table the think makes them feel better sitting at. Do all cables deserve or justify expense? Sadly no but some do in certain situations and thats the truth even if some dont want to hear it. Use them if you want and are honestly ready for them. Dont use them if you dont think its possible they can make a difference but either way stay mature about it. Some cant and wont.
post #8 of 2598
Quote:


Do you think capacitance is a big important factor? I've heard that mentioned somewhere and I think it would be a more pressing factor in speaker cables as opposed to interconnects. I could be dead wrong. Personally, I think shielding is at least one of the most important factors in cables especially in a heavy RF area like mine.

There are a few special cases where capacitance could be a significant factor. (Including some badly designed amps that become unstable into high-capacitance loads.) But in the general case, no.

Remember: Everything makes a difference. The question is, does it make enough of a difference to be audible? It's ignorance of the latter question that fuels the know-nothing rationalizations you often see about cables.

As for shielding, that can be important for interconnects (but, again, often isn't). I've never heard of a home installation where it was a factor for speaker cables.
post #9 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

Seeking education about those ultra-expensive interconnects

They're snake oil.

Class is dismissed..............
post #10 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadnliz View Post

Cables can and do make a difference but some make none. But with most any cable its just about the last step in a long list of thing to be taken care before one is even ready to do a honest evaluation. The gear, its synergy, the room, proper placement and setup, power issues and other aspects are to be addresed prior to all but a modest cable investment. Now once you got all that done try some cables from loaner websites and see what happens, dont plan on miracles but do hope to squeeze out the last couple percent if sound from your rig... or leave alone if you wish, expensive cables hurt nobody tho many crusade against them as if they banged their wife.
I dont care who thinks what but there is a childish wolfpack that I would bet the majority have no business talking on the subject, its just a cool kids table the think makes them feel better sitting at. Do all cables deserve or justify expense? Sadly no but some do in certain situations and thats the truth even if some dont want to hear it. Use them if you want and are honestly ready for them. Dont use them if you dont think its possible they can make a difference but either way stay mature about it. Some cant and wont.

No fault or bagging on anyone who uses those type of cables. Hey, if you have the dispoable income for that and are trying to squeeze the last couple of percent out, then more power to ya. I think the line only gets crossed at the point that those as you describe start blasting those of us who do not use said cables for whatever reason.
Back to the percentage point though. It brings up this question: Can a 2% improvement or difference really be detected by the human ear? Even the most sensitive of us?
post #11 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

There are a few special cases where capacitance could be a significant factor. (Including some badly designed amps that become unstable into high-capacitance loads.) But in the general case, no.

Remember: Everything makes a difference. The question is, does it make enough of a difference to be audible? It's ignorance of the latter question that fuels the know-nothing rationalizations you often see about cables.

As for shielding, that can be important for interconnects (but, again, often isn't). I've never heard of a home installation where it was a factor for speaker cables.

I was thinking more along the lines of capacitance as a factor for speaker cables, but I could be totally off in my thinking. I'm thinking the Paradigm Studio 100s for example would probably prefer a good o2 free copper 14 gauge cable with good terminators over an 18 gauge wire. Although, I might be thinking of resistance there.
post #12 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

Example, I used to run whatever cables came with the gear or the rat shack jobs. Then one day I switched over to Monoprice premium RCA inter-connects and it made a noticeable difference, but not totally in sound quality except to say that much RF interference was gone and the build quality of the cables is superior.

That's really all you need to achieve with interconnects with most gear. It should meet the standard of being able to transmit a signal without interference. After that, you're chasing extremely diminishing returns, if there are any.

Blue Jeans Cables are nice, but I don't know if they offer performance benefits over Monoprice or BJC's own Tartan Cable lines. Tartan uses lower cost Chinese made ends, but I've owned a couple of them and have never noticed a difference between any other. Monoprice is out of Rancho Cucamunga and I often get stuff from them next day if I order early enough (like, before noon.) BJC and Tartan are out of Seattle, I think, and they get to me fast, too.
post #13 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

That's really all you need to achieve with interconnects with most gear. It should meet the standard of being able to transmit a signal without interference. After that, you're chasing extremely diminishing returns, if there are any.

Blue Jeans Cables are nice, but I don't know if they offer performance benefits over Monoprice or BJC's own Tartan Cable lines. Tartan uses lower cost Chinese made ends, but I've owned a couple of them and have never noticed a difference between any other. Monoprice is out of Rancho Cucamunga and I often get stuff from them next day if I order early enough (like, before noon.) BJC and Tartan are out of Seattle, I think, and they get to me fast, too.

Gotta love the "California Overnite" from Monoprice. I actually picked up at their warehouse once.
post #14 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

totally put down (and off I might ad) by the folks there slamming my set-up calling it garbage just because I was not running $1400 interconnects and speaker cables.

U know you have grown up when you don't care what these folks say.

Live for yourself, it's alot more liberating. Living for other people is too stressful, on YOUR DIME.
post #15 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadnliz View Post

I dont care who thinks what but there is a childish wolfpack that I would bet the majority have no business talking on the subject, its just a cool kids table the think makes them feel better sitting at.

I agree. Yet for some reason they keep posting that cables make a difference, with no evidence to support it. Oh well.
post #16 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

I've always advocated that the speakers, the source (and the acoustical qualities of the room) are the backbone and most important parts of a system.
The Roger-russell thing has been presented to me before, but I personally find it somewhat confusing and cumbersome as he gets into using all these switch things and wire gadgets and such to improve sound.

Actually, aside from this current topic, the Roger Russel story at Mc is a fantastic read. The Peter Principle
post #17 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

That's really all you need to achieve with interconnects with most gear. It should meet the standard of being able to transmit a signal without interference. After that, you're chasing extremely diminishing returns, if there are any.

Blue Jeans Cables are nice, but I don't know if they offer performance benefits over Monoprice or BJC's own Tartan Cable lines. Tartan uses lower cost Chinese made ends, but I've owned a couple of them and have never noticed a difference between any other. Monoprice is out of Rancho Cucamunga and I often get stuff from them next day if I order early enough (like, before noon.) BJC and Tartan are out of Seattle, I think, and they get to me fast, too.

The posts in this thread leads me to believe that I was right all along regarding interconnects. Good shielding and good connectors and your good to go. The Blue Jean cables are probably slightly better in construction, but it's probably not much difference in most cases. I also see that much of what is claimed as improvement or gain is really perceived and not actually realized because we are talking about really small percentages/numbers if they are there.
Again that is no slam on those who prefer to use the ultra-expensive big name interconnects for any reason they choose. If it makes you happy then it counts. Please don't take anything I say as a slam. It's not meant to be. At best, it's merely a difference of opinion or perception and nothing more. I have seen some real nasty fights over this topic and I have always just wanted straight answers with proof as best as possible. I think we did a good job this time keeping everything civil. It shows it can be done because when you boil it all down at the end of the day it's really about listening to music or what have you and enjoying it.

Re: Monoprice. I've always liked them for most things ever since discovering them when I was looking for reality priced HDMI cables. I then disovered all the other stuff they had to offer like far better interconnects then the ones that you get with your gear or from rat shack or walmart, etc. and at a lower price. Also the odd items needed from time to time (converters, and such). Now talk about fast! Good heavens, it seems the stuff is at my door in an hour or before I'm done hitting the "complete order" button! This next day delivery for $4 or what have you can spoil you quick.

Again, thanks for all the candid replies. I can now put the whole interconnect thing to bed.
post #18 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

Re: Monoprice.

Now talk about fast! Good heavens, it seems the stuff is at my door in an hour or before I'm done hitting the "complete order" button! This next day delivery for $4 or what have you can spoil you quick.

That's because they're in our area. I also don't bother with their next day delivery. The first class delivery is fast enough for me, and can be next day if I order in the morning (they put it out in that day's mail.)
post #19 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

U know you have grown up when you don't care what these folks say.

Live for yourself, it's alot more liberating. Living for other people is too stressful, on YOUR DIME.

Yes, I just blow it off. I only bring it up because there was so much of it and so rabid. Needless to say I no longer go to any meets of that club. It seems they take delight in spending foolish amounts of money chasing elusive things while enjoying their music while judging others by trying to make them miserable for not running the same gear they do or whatever. I find that to be a very odd way to enjoy audio.
post #20 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

That's because they're in our area. I also don't bother with their next day delivery. The first class delivery is fast enough for me, and can be next day if I order in the morning (they put it out in that day's mail.)

I agree, I just go with the cheapist delivery of anything from anywhere as it's good enough for me, I'm in no rush. It just so happens that Monoprice's cheapest gets to me the next day. I still think it's weird as I am used to waiting a good 5 to 7 business days. Hey, kudos to monoprice on that one I guess.
post #21 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

No fault or bagging on anyone who uses those type of cables. Hey, if you have the dispoable income for that and are trying to squeeze the last couple of percent out, then more power to ya. I think the line only gets crossed at the point that those as you describe start blasting those of us who do not use said cables for whatever reason.
Back to the percentage point though. It brings up this question: Can a 2% improvement or difference really be detected by the human ear? Even the most sensitive of us?

I believe so and my experience has prooved it for me atleast. Now also there has to be considered what the whole of the system is. A $100 cable doesnt make sense on a $400 reciever but a $500 cable on a $10,000 rig is not so out of bounds. My system comes in around $30\\40k and I have around $3500 total in many cables it takes for a biamp outboard crossover AV system with multiple components. I have been burned by cables but some are worth it. Up to individuals to decide what works and doesnt work. I am not arrogant enough to thumb my nose at those without quality cables and in turn I think the reverse shouldnt happen either, but it wont.
post #22 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anubisrocks View Post

Do you think capacitance is a big important factor? I've heard that mentioned somewhere and I think it would be a more pressing factor in speaker cables as opposed to interconnects. I could be dead wrong. Personally, I think shielding is at least one of the most important factors in cables especially in a heavy RF area like mine.

I ran a bunch of simulations for measured cable parameters against the load of a typical 2-way speaker. You can see it starting here: http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...e-Theory/page3

Net of it was that no matter which cable characteristics we plugged into the model, it didn't amount to much. We even looked at phase shifts and such and it was always pretty small.

One plausible explanation put forth is that connectors may oxidize, come loose, etc. so when people switch cables, they hear a difference. So it is important to go back to the original cable once more to make sure it didn't improve just the same.

That said, I did run a blind test at home once using interconnects to the dual inputs of my Stax headphone amp. And despite switching the cables at each experiment, the difference remained. I have no explanation to offer per-se but what I did hear was repeatable but very small.
post #23 of 2598
We frequently put together super high and hyper accurate systems costing a couple million bucks. The most expensive cables are the 8 conductor speaker cables. Mega buck cables are not found in the pro studios where the music is recorded, mixed, sweetened and edited. AMF, most studios use short TSR patch cable bays to add in effects etc. these can be purchased for around 10.00 for a 3ft cable. And they are color coded and heavy duty.
post #24 of 2598
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadnliz View Post

I believe so and my experience has prooved it for me atleast. Now also there has to be considered what the whole of the system is. A $100 cable doesnt make sense on a $400 reciever but a $500 cable on a $10,000 rig is not so out of bounds. My system comes in around $30\\40k and I have around $3500 total in many cables it takes for a biamp outboard crossover AV system with multiple components. I have been burned by cables but some are worth it. Up to individuals to decide what works and doesnt work. I am not arrogant enough to thumb my nose at those without quality cables and in turn I think the reverse shouldnt happen either, but it wont.

I'd hate to see the back of your system, yikes! Although with that amount of money invested you probably have some sort of cable management going on so it probably doesn't look scary at all.
Anyway, we may disagree here or there over semantics, but I thought you presented your position well and without the arrogance as did everyone else in this thread, unlike what I have seen from others in other places and threads so many times before.
Unfortunately, your right, as long as there are humans I think we will continue to see the arrogance from some folks in the "I run expensive cables" catagory towards the "those who don't" catagory and the reverse as well from those who don't and want to have equal arrogance in calling those that do names.
The rest of us who are civil and secure in our systems whatever they may be, will go on chatting with each other, exploring our systems, learning and helping each other out.
post #25 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadnliz View Post

I believe so and my experience has prooved it for me atleast. Now also there has to be considered what the whole of the system is. A $100 cable doesnt make sense on a $400 reciever but a $500 cable on a $10,000 rig is not so out of bounds. My system comes in around $30\\40k and I have around $3500 total in many cables it takes for a biamp outboard crossover AV system with multiple components. I have been burned by cables but some are worth it. Up to individuals to decide what works and doesnt work. I am not arrogant enough to thumb my nose at those without quality cables and in turn I think the reverse shouldnt happen either, but it wont.

Would Iron Chef Bobby Flay serve up his concoctions on Walmart foam plates? I think not!
post #26 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadnliz View Post

Cables can and do make a difference but some make none.

Most cables don't and some do make a difference. Those that do make a difference are to be avoided. Good news is that cheap IC cables are transparent enough for the best stereo system in the world. Any more money spent than one would at places like Bluejeans is a waste of money.
post #27 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by diomania View Post

Most cables don't and some do make a difference. Those that do make a difference are to be avoided. Good news is that cheap IC cables are transparent enough for the best stereo system in the world. Any more money spent than one would at places like Bluejeans is a waste of money.

Were not gonna start this "cables shouldnt manipulate the sound" debate are we? Thats what some want just like tubes so to each their own. Eq's, tone controls good, cables that xan say tame a high frequency issue bad? Doesnt make sense, why buy something that doesnt affect sound? Oh wait your point is likely that they dont change sound so agree to disagree.
post #28 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

Would Iron Chef Bobby Flay serve up his concoctions on Walmart foam plates? I think not!

post #29 of 2598
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadnliz View Post

Were not gonna start this "cables shouldnt manipulate the sound" debate are we? Thats what some want just like tubes so to each their own. Eq's, tone controls good, cables that xan say tame a high frequency issue bad? Doesnt make sense, why buy something that doesnt affect sound? Oh wait your point is likely that they dont change sound so agree to disagree.

Quality of cable is judged by its transparency (& shielding ability for IC cables). High quality cables good enough for the best stereo system in the world can be had for less than a dollar per foot. Paying anymore for the functional aspect of it is a waste of money.

Do you have a formula or chart for tone controlling via audio cable?
post #30 of 2598
totally accurate and a excellent question to boot.
Anyone have a said chart?
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