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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've settled on Usher S-520s and Cambridge Audio 540A v2 for my stereo setup and now I need to find some cables to finish it off. I'm not really interested in paying more than about $50 total for all my cable needs.


What I need is approximately 20 ft. (2 x 10 ft.) of speaker wire, two sets of banana plugs, and some RCA interconnects to hook up the Cambridge to my Bellari phono pre-amp as well as my TV.


1. Should I be looking for cables at my local audio dealer, or is it cheaper to buy online?

2. Is it better to buy the speaker wire and plugs separately, or buy wire that include plugs?

3. Is it worth it to pay extra for high-end RCA interconnects (i.e. gold plated Monster Cable or Acoustic Research) rather than the generic kind?


I've looked around a bit, and it seems like Accessories4less.com might have the best prices for Monster Cable. Is this Monster Cable speaker wire a good deal along with Ixos plugs ?


How about these Acoustic Research RCA interconnects vs these Monster Cable?


Thanksss~
 

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I recommend the A.R. Pro stuff; don't purchase Monster products.
 

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i used the audio research stuff in my first good system--worked great.,


what i would recommend is that you check ouy audiogon.com--lok at the cables and see if you can find something in your price range--youll be geting practically new cables at 1/2 price--i currently use kimber hero and silver streak interconnects and kimber 8tc cables.


you just bought one hell of a nice setup-- i wouldnt spend too much but get something decent. audioquest makes some good cables that arent too expensive either.
 

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blue jeans or monoprice
 

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Get the best RCA interconnects you can find/afford. High impedance/low-level signals are relatively susceptible to noise and capacitive losses in signal cable, so this is an area where quality cable designs really make a huge difference. There are quite a few reputable companies that make good ones; stay away from the high-margin big-box retail brands and go internet (or maybe a local specialty shop).


As for the speaker cable - 12 or 14 gauge zip cord from Home Depot is actually better than most of the "Audiophile" speaker cables you can get at retail outlets (which often have very thick insulation, but very thin conductors). Aside from connector quality, the single most important parameter in speaker cable is wire gauge - everything else is WAY down the list, and probably inaudible in your system. Don't waste money here - put it where it will really help out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys!


Do you think it is a good idea to bi-wire the Usher/Cambridge?


In that case, the Canare "quad star" speaker wire from blue jeans would seem like a good deal.


Also, a Mogami 3606 RCA cable came with the Bellari pre-amp... I have little idea if this is a good cable, but it has gold plated connectors.


I'm looking at Audiogon for more interconnects, and the Kimbers look pretty expensive ($100+ for about 1 m). I wish I could spend that much but it just seems like a lot when the receiver itself was only $299.
 

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Quote:
1. Should I be looking for cables at my local audio dealer, or is it cheaper to buy online?

Cheaper online.

Quote:
2. Is it better to buy the speaker wire and plugs separately, or buy wire that include plugs?

Unless you find a great deal, it's usually cheaper to do it yourself. If you're not planning on changing your system for a while, why bother with banana plugs at all? Just use bare wire.

Quote:
3. Is it worth it to pay extra for high-end RCA interconnects (i.e. gold plated Monster Cable or Acoustic Research) rather than the generic kind?

It is almost never worth it to pay extra for cables. Unless you have a truly unusual situation (and you don't), the cheapest thing out there will work as well as the most expensive.

Quote:
I've looked around a bit, and it seems like Accessories4less.com might have the best prices for Monster Cable. Is this Monster Cable speaker wire a good deal along with Ixos plugs?


How about these Acoustic Research RCA interconnects vs these Monster Cable?

They're all fine, but they're about twice as much as you need to spend.

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Do you think it is a good idea to bi-wire the Usher/Cambridge?

Nope.

Quote:
Also, a Mogami 3606 RCA cable came with the Bellari pre-amp... I have little idea if this is a good cable, but it has gold plated connectors.

Then it's free. Can't beat that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus /forum/post/15528547


If you're not planning on changing your system for a while, why bother with banana plugs at all? Just use bare wire.

Well I could be wrong, but it looks like the inputs on the Ushers are designed for banana plugs. I also don't mind paying a little more if it'll make taking them apart/moving them a lot easier. But I do realize that minimizing the number of connections is usually best.


Now with conflicting advice on the RCA cables, is there a middle ground? Do RCA cables exist that are significantly better in quality than the Acoustic Research ones that can be found for around $30-50? I only need the second one to be about 1m long (from my preamp to int. amp).
 

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ok so heres the deal--their is a faction here that does not believe cables make a difference and another that does. one camp will advise you to buy the best you can afford or about 10% the cost of your system.


the other will tell you to buy the cheapest that will conduct electrons because that is all that matters.


I took the test myself and for me, listening to 3 types of speaker cable there was a significant, reliable, and characterizable difference between them so i bought the one i liked best. others will tell you that double blind listening tests are required to prove that any difference exists.


so for me the middle ground was purchasing good mid grade cables that I liked the sound of.


I thought the AR (higher end) cables sounded pretty good (neutral) myself.
 

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Quote:
Well I could be wrong, but it looks like the inputs on the Ushers are designed for banana plugs. I also don't mind paying a little more if it'll make taking them apart/moving them a lot easier. But I do realize that minimizing the number of connections is usually best.

I'd be surprised if the Ushers couldn't handle spades or bare wire just as well, but bananas are convenient.

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Now with conflicting advice on the RCA cables, is there a middle ground?

No. You either believe the scientists, or you believe in magic.


My advice: Buy the cheapest cables you can find, and spend the rest on some new music. I guarantee you a better listening experience that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How about 50 ft. of 12 gauge copper speaker wire and 4 pairs of copper banana plugs from Monoprice? The total comes to $28.52 with shipping and tax.


I can just use the generic RCA cable that came with my dvd player to connect the TV to the receiver, and the Mogami RCA cable to connect the pre-amp to the receiver. I'll stay on the lookout for higher quality interconnects that aren't too expensive from Audiogon. There are just so many brands... and the prices get crazy.
 

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Speaking strictly from a technical point of view...


Do what I did to all my systems except for CC and surround applications: MAKE YOUR OWN CABLES!!!


Just twist 4 runs of CAT5 or better yet CAT6. That's 8 individually isolated solid wire per connection! Terminate 1 pair as - and the other pair as +. Make another set for the other speaker. The combined gauge for each connection is 12 gauge. Theoretically there is no other better cable than CAT-5 proven to carry signal over long distances with better noise cancelling properties. If you don't believe me check out the results at Audioholics. Buy it in a box bulk, it'll be cheaper than anything in the store or online. When CAT-7 comes out in 2010 it'll be the best speaker cable ever made with every strand shielded. You'll have to spend a whole day terminating a set but it'll be worth it.


Anyway, at 10ft run the recommended minimum gauge is 12. If you can do 10 it's better but not necessary. Measurement-wise it's better to have a long but thick cable than a short but thin cable.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmuell /forum/post/15528662


Well I could be wrong, but it looks like the inputs on the Ushers are designed for banana plugs.

You can use bare wire with the S-520. Unscrew the posts all the way up, you'll see a hole in the middle where you can insert the wires. A prettier alternative would still be the bananas but sonically it makes no difference. Spades are to be avoided as if you change speakers and the diameter of the posts change, you'd have to re-terminate the cables.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmuell /forum/post/15528977


How about 50 ft. of 12 gauge copper speaker wire and 4 pairs of copper banana plugs from Monoprice? The total comes to $28.52 with shipping and tax.

Good stuff!

Quote:
I can just use the generic RCA cable that came with my dvd player to connect the TV to the receiver, and the Mogami RCA cable to connect the pre-amp to the receiver. I'll stay on the lookout for higher quality interconnects that aren't too expensive from Audiogon. There are just so many brands... and the prices get crazy.

I've found the generic RCAs to have a tendency towards being noisy. Again, the RCA interconnects are handling a low-level high-impedance signal, so you can get some real benefit from your extra $$$ here....


The two most important characteristics signal-level cables are shielding (100% with braid and foil is best) and capacitance (lower is better). There are other items that make a difference, but at your price point, these are the ones you should be looking at.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by EnergyOwner /forum/post/15528208


blue jeans or monoprice

I have to agree bluejeanscable.com is the way to go.
 

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Quote:
Anyway, at 10ft run the recommended minimum gauge is 12.

Probably gross overkill. But generic 12 AWG is so cheap it doesn't matter. Cf. Mr. Russell .

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Anybody know anything about this internet brand Yaccocables? Their "entry-level" silver interconnects look like a good value.

Ooooh, silver!!!!!!!

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I've found the generic RCAs to have a tendency towards being noisy.

I haven't. I don't think this problem is common. He should still try the generics first. It certainly makes no sense to spend extra to fix a problem you don't have.

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Again, the RCA interconnects are handling a low-level high-impedance signal, so you can get some real benefit from your extra $$$ here....

What's a "high-impedance signal"?

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The two most important characteristics signal-level cables are shielding (100% with braid and foil is best) and capacitance (lower is better).

Even cheap patch cords are shielded adequately, in my experience. Nor have I ever encountered a cheap cord with too much capacitance. That problem is actually more common in exotic high-end designs. Keep it simple, and it just works.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus /forum/post/15529485


I haven't. I don't think this problem is common. He should still try the generics first. It certainly makes no sense to spend extra to fix a problem you don't have.

I'll agree that you shouldn't spend money just for the sake of spending money, but only to a point. Many of the cheap, "thrown-in-the-box" cables have only a 50-60% spiral wrap shield. If you listen to decent source material at a reasonably high volume, you can hear the difference.


Quote:
What's a "high-impedance signal"?

A signal feeding a a device with a high input impedance. Anything over 20K or so would classify as high impedance. In contrast, a speaker is 4-8 Ohms, so it is low impedance.


In general, any normal low-level (1V nominal) signal will be feeding a high-impedance input. The side effect to a higher input impedance is that a lower current is required to drive the input; this makes it an easier load to drive, as it puts less current demand on the source device. The corrolary, though, is that the higher the input impedance is, the higher the noise sensitivity will be. Thus, higher input impedances are more sensitive to variances in cable construction and quality.


Speaker signals, being high current and low impedance, are not very sensitive to induced noise, nor to variances in cable construction.


Basic electrical circuit theory (Ohm's Law and Faraday's Laws) cover this pretty thoroughly.

Quote:
Even cheap patch cords are shielded adequately, in my experience. Nor have I ever encountered a cheap cord with too much capacitance. That problem is actually more common in exotic high-end designs. Keep it simple, and it just works.

I've had some pretty severe problems with cheap cables. YMMV.


Under any circumstances, I'll stand by my earlier statement that if you're going to spend money on cables, it is far better spent on low-level signal cables than on speaker cables.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmuell /forum/post/15529585


I should probably just balls up, right ?

ROTFLMFAO!


Before anyone spends that sort of loose change on cables, they really need to spend some time in a serious recording studio to see what cables are used to create the recordings they will be playing in their listening room......
 
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