How much pre-amp -> amp cables matter? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 244 Old 08-23-2018, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
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How much pre-amp -> amp cables matter?

I'm planning on purchasing some Rotel pre-amps and amps. The amps themselves are around $8000, and the salesperson insisted that they'd be wasted on cheap cables. So he recommended high-end Transparent cables for me. Most of these are RCA connections between the pre-amp and amp. They are also "directional".

Are they worth it? I'm pretty new to audio and analogue signals, but I know for network cables, as long as they are shield and made to the same spec, there's very little difference cables make. Monoprice makes some pretty cheap cables in comparison.

Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 2m
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 15'
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 8',
Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 15’

All told, these cables add up to around $2200.
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post #2 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 04:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hehe299792458 View Post
I'm planning on purchasing some Rotel pre-amps and amps. The amps themselves are around $8000, and the salesperson insisted that they'd be wasted on cheap cables. So he recommended high-end Transparent cables for me. Most of these are RCA connections between the pre-amp and amp. They are also "directional".

Are they worth it? I'm pretty new to audio and analogue signals, but I know for network cables, as long as they are shield and made to the same spec, there's very little difference cables make. Monoprice makes some pretty cheap cables in comparison.

Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 2m
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 15'
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 8',
Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 15’

All told, these cables add up to around $2200.
This is a topic which can cause flamewars.

Unfortunately, in most cases the features attributed to those types of highly expensive cables are, well, snake oil, and are readily available in much less expensive brands. High priced cables usually have very high margins and are a significant source of profit for their sellers. (In the past when I've purchased A/V equipment from local brick-and-mortar A/V specialty stores, they often threw in "boutique" cables for essentially free. Local stores like that have to charge higher prices than internet resellers, but they often other services at no additional cost, like providing a loaner when equipment has to be returned for repair.)

The general consensus here on AVS is that cables have very little, if any, effect on what you hear. Cables which cost $6 from Monoprice sound just as good as $1000 cables from one of the boutique manufacturers. Longer cable runs do require thicker (smaller gauge value) wires to minimize signal attenuation, but that's only a minor cost increase.

The only directional cables are those which have electronics built into them to amplify signals for long cable runs. Called "active" cables, they're needed for HDMI cable runs longer than about 25' and allow the use of thinner, more flexible, cables on shorter runs. Monoprice sells Redmere brand active cables, for example.

In some cases, as when AV equipment has to be used in an electrically noisy environment or when there's a "ground loop", it can make a difference in noise levels depending on which end of an RCA cable is grounded. Relatively few people encounter this type of problem.

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post #3 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 05:07 AM
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Will he take them back if you can't tell the difference? If that is the case, then go for it! Otherwise, as long as you stay away from the cheapest stuff you should be okay.

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post #4 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 05:26 AM
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Any RG6 cable with RCA connectors will work perfectly.

There is a difference between really cheap cables you get from places like monoprice and the more expensive ones. The cheap ones have more of a tendency to break at the connectors, but if that happens, you can just replace with another cheap one and still come out way ahead.
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post #5 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hehe299792458 View Post
I'm planning on purchasing some Rotel pre-amps and amps. The amps themselves are around $8000, and the salesperson insisted that they'd be wasted on cheap cables. So he recommended high-end Transparent cables for me. Most of these are RCA connections between the pre-amp and amp. They are also "directional".

Are they worth it? I'm pretty new to audio and analogue signals, but I know for network cables, as long as they are shield and made to the same spec, there's very little difference cables make. Monoprice makes some pretty cheap cables in comparison.

Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 2m
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 15'
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 8',
Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 15’

All told, these cables add up to around $2200.
I have been there (as it turns out with pretty much those particular cables) and concluded that it is a waste of money. As other say, people will disagree, but even sighted I couldn't tell a difference. Use some decent Blue Jeans or other interconnects that are made well and you will be happy and have more money.
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post #6 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 05:45 AM
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Don't waste your money on wires. My amps are more expensive than the ones you mention in your opening post so I am not one of these cheap guys here screaming "you have to but cheap cables or well hate you" like so many do.

(you do need proper gauge for speaker wires)

If you want expensive cables because they make you feel better ot look better than by all means get them. I like low end "better cable" but I have no delusions.

What you got back home, little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on? I bet you got little save pitiful, portable picnic players. Come with uncle and hear all proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited.
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post #7 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 06:46 AM
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In my opinion, there’s electronics and there’s magic. Sometimes they interfere with one another, but more often than not, science wins. Especially on wires. It needs to be applied on matching the gauge for longer cables, otherwise the impedance of the system is negatively affected to an observable degree. Connectors are important to keep you from troubleshooting, especially if you move things around and need to connect/reconnect cables every now and then. I have been happy for a few years with the Monoprice cables, and some of the more flexible Amazon Basics cables for shorter runs. I always keep a spare to exchange for quick signal troubleshooting when in need.

It is on each of us to decide how much we pay for function and how much for form, and there’s no right answer. In my case, cables are an 80/20 between function and form (aesthetic). YMMV.

Enjoy your system!


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post #8 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 06:51 AM
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I built my own cables since I wanted the amp on the floor in between my towers. I used Belden 1694A and Canare RCA ends
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post #9 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:07 AM
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being an engineer the answer is pretty simple and straight forward:
have a look at the equivalent circuit diagram of a two wire transmission line.
ask the salesperson to explain exactly(!) which parameters of his "so much better" cable differs from the cheaper ones and how they influence the sound, i'm interested in the results

the point is: if you want to connect a high impedance source like a phono pick-up over quite a distance the capacity of the cable becomes relevant.
if you have a pre-amp which isn't completely rubbish, it will have a pretty low output impedance and even a higher capacity doesn't matter at all.

XLR/balanced cables only make sense if pre and power amp are based on a internally balanced design! If not, additional conversion circuits are required. That doesn't matter either, but for someone who believes in the sound of wires, two or more additional op-amp in the signal path must be a nightmare...
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post #10 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hehe299792458 View Post
The amps themselves are around $8000, and the salesperson insisted that they'd be wasted on cheap cables.

All told, these cables add up to around $2200.
Run away, don't walk away. And without knowing more, I would be suspicious of the need for $8k in amps.
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post #11 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:15 AM
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Cheaper cables will do the job great. Monoprice sell some great ones. But in the end you should do what makes you happy. It's your system got get to hear it every day. If you have the cash and want to spend it, buy all means get the expensive ones.

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post #12 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hehe299792458 View Post
I'm planning on purchasing some Rotel pre-amps and amps. The amps themselves are around $8000, and the salesperson insisted that they'd be wasted on cheap cables. So he recommended high-end Transparent cables for me. Most of these are RCA connections between the pre-amp and amp. They are also "directional".

Are they worth it? I'm pretty new to audio and analogue signals, but I know for network cables, as long as they are shield and made to the same spec, there's very little difference cables make. Monoprice makes some pretty cheap cables in comparison.

Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 2m
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 15'
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 8',
Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 15’

All told, these cables add up to around $2200.

The cables seem like a waste of money.


What speakers are you planning on running with those amps? Seems like an awful lot of $$$ into the front end...
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post #13 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:21 AM
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Run away, don't walk away. And without knowing more, I would be suspicious of the need for $8k in amps.
Maybe it's a want because it's not likely a need.
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post #14 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:21 AM
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Seems like an awful lot of $$$ into the front end...
$10k buys a pretty nice subwoofer system and opens up a lot of more efficient speaker options, for sure.
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post #15 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by eljr View Post
Maybe it's a want because it's not likely a need.
I got nothing against spending big on amps just because you want, as long as you are not just being sold a bill of goods by a salesman.
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post #16 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jjackkrash View Post
$10k buys a pretty nice subwoofer system and opens up a lot of more efficient speaker options, for sure.



That, and I'd expect someone investing 10k into a prepro and amps to have 20k plus in their speakers. all too often you see someone with 3k speakers and 20k in the amp & pre section
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post #17 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 07:37 AM
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I just mentioned this in another thread, but if it makes you feel any better, I'm currently running a system worth about $23,000 ($15,000 speakers + $3000 amp + 3000 cd player + $2000 hi-res player).

Guess what I'm using for speaker cable and interconnects? ....Monoprice. It sounds freaking awesome.

That said, I HAVE bought some prettier cables from SVS (which aren't outlandishly priced and are superb quality) as well as from a few other manufacturers, but it pretty much boils down to that... aesthetics and maybe cable head quality, but my Monoprice XLR cable are actually pretty good! Never had an issue with their premium RCA cables either. Pretty cables are nice to have (if you can see them) and I do like a thick gauge (which doesn't have to cost much), but cables are definitely the furthest thing down on my priority list when it comes to where I'm going to spend my money.

Now let's say we gave hardcore audiophiles the absolute benefit of the doubt and assumed they were right for a moment: Even IF cables brought out some magical teeny tiny improvement in sound, I guarantee you'd get much larger MEASURABLE results simply from placement, acoustics, equipment settings, etc. Things you likely don't have spend money on. Haha.
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post #18 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 08:45 AM
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I got nothing against spending big on amps just because you want, as long as you are not just being sold a bill of goods by a salesman.
Exactly.

When I upgraded to my big amps the audio guy told me honest, I did not need them. I told him I understood and bought them.
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post #19 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 08:51 AM
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I just mentioned this in another thread, but if it makes you feel any better, I'm currently running a system worth about $23,000 ($15,000 speakers + $3000 amp + 3000 cd player + $2000 hi-res player).

Guess what I'm using for speaker cable and interconnects? ....Monoprice. It sounds freaking awesome.

That said, I HAVE bought some prettier cables from SVS (which aren't outlandishly priced and are superb quality) as well as from a few other manufacturers, but it pretty much boils down to that... aesthetics and maybe cable head quality, but my Monoprice XLR cable are actually pretty good! Never had an issue with their premium RCA cables either. Pretty cables are nice to have (if you can see them) and I do like a thick gauge (which doesn't have to cost much), but cables are definitely the furthest thing down on my priority list when it comes to where I'm going to spend my money.

Now let's say we gave hardcore audiophiles the absolute benefit of the doubt and assumed they were right for a moment: Even IF cables brought out some magical teeny tiny improvement in sound, I guarantee you'd get much larger MEASURABLE results simply from placement, acoustics, equipment settings, etc. Things you likely don't have spend money on. Haha.

You sound exactly like me. My main system is just a bit more than yours, just two power amps, speakers and a SACD player (with a built in pre) My cables are Audioquest but low end, for ascetics.

What you got back home, little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on? I bet you got little save pitiful, portable picnic players. Come with uncle and hear all proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited.
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post #20 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 09:03 AM
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You sound exactly like me. My main system is just a bit more than yours, just two power amps, speakers and a SACD player (with a built in pre) My cables are Audioquest but low end, for ascetics.
I suspect you mean "for aesthetics".

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as·cet·ic
əˈsedik/
noun
plural noun: ascetics

a person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention.
synonyms: abstainer, puritan, recluse, hermit, anchorite, solitary;

aes·thet·ics
esˈTHediks/
noun
noun: aesthetics; noun: esthetics

a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art.
the branch of philosophy that deals with the principles of beauty and artistic taste.
I suspect an ascetic wouldn't buy Audioquest cables,
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post #21 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 09:17 AM
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I suspect you mean "for aesthetics".



I suspect an ascetic wouldn't buy Audioquest cables,
Seriously?

God Bless.

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post #22 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 09:48 AM
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Svs

SVS makes some nice looking cables. I struggled with the same thing I just couldnt justify that cost.
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post #23 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 10:28 AM
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I would recommend blue jeans cables, they have outstanding quality at a very fair price. Their prices are higher than monoprice, but the quality of their connectors and the actual termination of the wire is top notch. This is the most important part of the cable. Also blue jeans uses mainly belden wires which are used in most recording studios, I would suspect most of monoprice's cables/connectors are from no name Chinese manufacturers.
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post #24 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 10:41 AM
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I would recommend blue jeans cables, they have outstanding quality at a very fair price. Their prices are higher than monoprice, but the quality of their connectors and the actual termination of the wire is top notch. This is the most important part of the cable. Also blue jeans uses mainly belden wires which are used in most recording studios, I would suspect most of monoprice's cables/connectors are from no name Chinese manufacturers.
Indeed. BJC really does hit the sweet spot for quality vs price. Great stuff!
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post #25 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hehe299792458 View Post
I'm planning on purchasing some Rotel pre-amps and amps. The amps themselves are around $8000, and the salesperson insisted that they'd be wasted on cheap cables. So he recommended high-end Transparent cables for me. Most of these are RCA connections between the pre-amp and amp. They are also "directional".

Are they worth it? I'm pretty new to audio and analogue signals, but I know for network cables, as long as they are shield and made to the same spec, there's very little difference cables make. Monoprice makes some pretty cheap cables in comparison.

Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 2m
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 15'
Transparent Music Wave Speaker Cable, 8',
Transparent MusicLink RCA Interconnect Cable, 15’

All told, these cables add up to around $2200.
No cables don't matter. Get some reasonably priced cables from monoprice and your good to go. If there is any difference electrically and that is a MASSIVE IF, it is at a level that is not detectable to the human ear, even if audiophiles will claim all day long they can hear the difference. Truth of the matter the most important part of the cable is the connector since IF there is any point in the signal path to pick up noise that would be it.
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post #26 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 10:56 AM
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Cables matter in that you want them shielded.
You really, really do. Both very cheap and some snake-oil expensive cables are unshielded. Unshielded cables will work as antennas to pick up noise and foreign signals.

Other than that, there is no significance to interconnect cables. A good one will cost in the range of $20, up to $50.

This is not an amp thread, but if you have a $10k budget, are you sure Rotel is the brand to go with? This is perhaps not yet Pass Labs territory, but there's a lot of choice, and Rotel is generally in the mainstream range. Depends on your speakers, though - what are they (or will be)?
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post #27 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by liffie420 View Post
No cables don't matter. Get some reasonably priced cables from monoprice and your good to go. If there is any difference electrically and that is a MASSIVE IF, it is at a level that is not detectable to the human ear, even if audiophiles will claim all day long they can hear the difference. Truth of the matter the most important part of the cable is the connector since IF there is any point in the signal path to pick up noise that would be it.
No offensee, but that's B's

Cables matter tremendously. After certain point 5here are minimal differences, but between chepao cables and something decent there is obvious differenc3

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post #28 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 12:14 PM
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There are differences in cables..
Wire gauge, type of shielding..
And these can load the respective input or outputs accordingly, sometimes causing attenuation and/or frequency roll-off..

Key point to keep in mind..
Cables are one of the highest profit margin categories in consumer electronics..
Often the selling dealer makes more $ on the sale of the cables than the sale of the connected hardware.
Typical $ markup % for cables can be as high as 100-500%..

The high profit margin % for cables (and other supporting accessories) are the only way the brick & mortar CE seller can survive...
As the average price levels due to intense market competition especially via the internet.
But also note the more esoteric, AV specialist for the high-end the electronics, the respective profit margin % increases significantly over mass-market, main-stream AV components...


Just my $0.02...
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post #29 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 12:16 PM
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Cables matter tremendously.
see post #9 here and try to explain based on electrical facts and the equivalent circuit diagram, please
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post #30 of 244 Old 08-24-2018, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabre View Post
No offensee, but that's B's

Cables matter tremendously. After certain point 5here are minimal differences, but between chepao cables and something decent there is obvious differenc3

Sent from my HTC U11 using Tapatalk
I will have to agree to disagree. I would be in a blind test %90 of people could not tell the difference between a $10 cable a $50 cable and a $500 cable. Could you tell a difference if you ran the output to a signal analyzer probably.
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