How do you choose your cables?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Alex-F-V, Jul 23, 2003.

  1. Alex-F-V

    Alex-F-V Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2003
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I always hear things "Like great cables make your speakers sound better" and other stuff boasting how important good high quality cables are.

    But the system I wish to purchase Is only $1200 dollars or so. Do I need to spend $200, $300, $400 dollars on high quality cables??
    Thx
    Alex

    PS. What brand should I get, I've only really heard of monster cable. My local HT place was boasting about GXP or something like that?
     
  2. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Messages:
    403
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As a very general rule, you should spend no more than 10% of system cost on cable, or about $120 is your case. For speaker wires, I would recommend 12 gauge stranded wire from home depot (and others probably will too, some might even have part numbers) I'll leave the rest of the cable choices for others.
     
  3. Bill_Wil

    Bill_Wil Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 26, 2003
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You definately dont need to pay for the "monster" name. As suggested go to home depot or walmart or any store like that and pick up a spool of 12 or 14 gage speaker wire. Pick up a wire stripping tool if you dont have one, cut the wire to length, strip off about 3/4" of the plastic, twist the strands together nice and tight and you're good to go. Usually these spools will have two tone wire to make it easier to differentiate when youre connecting the positive side and the negative. Sometimes theres writing on one side and not the other for this same purpose.
     
  4. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    10% of your system for all cables/interconnects mind you, not only speaker wire.

    I personally experienced and thus believe that if you use decent interconnects and properly terminated/hooked speaker wire, there's even no need for not staying well below that 10%. A 12 gauge $3/meter speaker wire does the job no worse than a 12 gauge $30/mt one. Regardless of how expensive hi-end gear you use.
     
  5. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    In truth, speaker wires and interconnects DO have an influence. But the trick is your equipment has to be 'sensitive' enough that it makes a difference.

    The 10% budget is a good rule to keep things in perspective.

    My advice is to start with good-but-budget cables, then as money becomes available, audition higher-end wires in your system, after you have become familar with the sound & video, to decide if the extra $$$ is worth it.

    Starter Wires:

    Speaker Wire - "Sound King" from www.partsexpress.com, or the 12 ga stuff from Home Depot. You do NOT need to have equal lengths to each speaker, and just use 12 ga to every speaker.

    (Note: Check out the dual banana plugs from Radio Shack (2xx-308) for behind the speakers, and the single bananas (2xx-306) for behind the receiver. They make it simple to do a neat wire job)

    Subwoofer Cable - Any good RCA style cable works for the sub. Just make sure the plugs fit snug. I've even made my own from CATV coax and 2 "F-to-RCA-Male" adaptors from Radio Shack.

    Digital - Go with a good Video cable for the coaxial-digital connection. It's cheaper, more robust than the optical connection.

    Video - This is my exception to the 'budget' theory. Go with budget video cables if:

    - Your TV is less than about 40"
    - You are pushing ordinary video (not progressive or HD)

    My favorite budget cables are the AR-Pro2 series from places like Best Buy and Sears. The Radio Shack "Fusion" cables and the older-but-good "MegaCable" wires.

    If you have a HDTV or larger display, go with custom video cables from one of the various custom sites such as www.bettercables.com. These cost about the same as the Monster Video 2 series, but people with 100" front-projectors swear by them. These places live on their reputation so they are a shear pleasure to deal with.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Messages:
    8,390
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    i like my radio-shack cables. they're about 1/3 the cost of monster and in my informal tests, i couldn't tell the difference.

    you may also want to check out some AR cables available at best buy. i'm using some of those with good results.

    i do recommend you get some banana plugs for your speaker wire - it will help the installation stay nice and clean.

    finally, if you can, i recommend you pick up some mroe expensive cabling (like monster) - and do a test. see for yourself if you hear a difference. just make sure you can return the cable - cuz you probably will. [​IMG]
     
  8. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  9. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002
    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes it is clearer what you've meant now, thanks.
    I also agree that that type of an influence is there for some people . But I think it's because they are convinced that the taste has been improved by the glass, although actually it hasn't, and it's all down to the individual's personality IMO. If a person believes he looks much better in a pair of Armani jeans and pays 5 times more for it than an identical pair of Levi's, nothing's wrong with it, whatever makes him happy is for him if he can afford it. But because he feels so, it doesn't necessarily has to be the reality [​IMG]
     
  10. Shervin

    Shervin Agent

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2003
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Makes me wish i had not bought that monster cable back in the day. I got it with a best buy discount but still. Should have just gone with home depot.
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    There are two different things being interchanged here it seems to me. Interconnect quality and speaker wire quality, and they are two somewhat different things. I feel it is quite important to have good interconnects, as they can have a much more dramatic effect on the sound of your system. 10% is a good rule for interconnects. Speaker wire on the other hand, while I still feel it is important to use quality stuff, is considerably less important.

    I do not feel that the styrofoam vs leaded crystal is a good analogy, since there is actually a physical phenomenon with respect to copper. If you get down to the details, where you are looking at material purity and grain structure, these very small factors can definitely influence sound. A wire with smooth grain structure will yeild less distortion than one that has poor grain structure, though this is a very subtle difference that may not justify the cost to many.

    I like the way Audioquest describes the influence of cables and wires:

     
  12. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You are correct in that there are 2 differences between interconnects and speaker wires. But from a electrical point of view:

    - Speaker wires carry current, interconnects do not. This gives speaker wires some issues that can be ignored with interconnects.

    - Interconnects tie the zero-volt reference (ground) together among components. My personal theory is when people say different cables created a different sound - it's because one cable ties the grounds together better (usually with a tighter-fitting RCA plug). Not because of mystical ingredents or 'special' windings or diaelectrics or shields.

    With all respect to John, I've had more people remark that Speaker Wires have a greater influence on their sound than interconnects. And this was before most audio interconnects became digital (which is very insensitive to the cable).


    I also have another opinion about cables - A music system is much more sensitive to the wires than a HT system. If you mainly watch movies, dont obsess over the wires - it's really a small factor.
     
  13. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I am a believer that speaker wire is a factor. In my main HT, changing the interconnects had a big effect, and we are talking about similarly priced ICs.

    In terms of wire, I completely agree that it is more dependent on the gear in question than anything. The more revealing the gear, the more susceptible to cable (wire) interaction a it tends to be. My 2ch system had just as dramatic of a change with both wire and interconnects. I have not changed my wire in my main system.

    For a $1200 system, Home Depot or SoundKing wire should be more than plenty.
     
  14. Vincent_S

    Vincent_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2002
    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My buddy just bought my old 12g Monster Cable stuff from me. He SAID he noticed a difference from his 12g Radio Shack cables. Maybe it is all in his head[​IMG]
     
  15. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 1999
    Messages:
    1,117
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    With a budget of only $1,200, I would think that the money you might spend on cables would be put to better use buying better components.

    Don't worry about it now. If you end up buying better equipment in the future, definitely consider getting some good interconnects. At this point, I doubt any cables would make a noticeable difference for you.
     
  16. Joe Road

    Joe Road Agent

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2003
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I am temporarily using cheap interconects to connect my Pioneer DV-45a player and my ICBM to my reciever. I want to upgrade to better quiality monster cable, but I will need 6 pairs! (3 pairs between my player and my ICBM and 3 pairs from my ICBM to my reciever). Will I notice a difference after I replace my cheap cables. I get a best buy discount, but it's still $100 for cables! Is it worth it?
     
  17. Robert_Barlow

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2002
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ahhhhh...the age old debate on wether or not interconnects REALLLLY make a difference. Well, soon I will finally be able to provide an opinion. I recently purchased a Rotel 1066 + 1075 combo and I have them connected w/the cheapo cables that came w/the 1066. I have 5 RCA cables in route from rhino cables. Once they arrive I will do a few comparisons and then I can finally have a decent opinion.

    I will say that monster cable gets a lot of bad press here. Talking to the local hi fi shop(blah blah blah..yes, I take it with a grain of salt) they say that monster makes pretty decent video cables, but that there sound cables aren't nearly as effective. There are several custom cable makers that seem to have a pretty big cult following and pretty cheap prices. I ended up going w/rhino and the RCA's(1m) were only 29.95 a piece. Hard to beat that price.

    Anyways, good luck and enjoy the system!!!!!!!
     
  18. Luke_Lemmings

    Luke_Lemmings Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2003
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For audio cables I recommend AUDIOQUEST.

    Even just their entry level stuff which is very affordable is very good.

    I'm connecting my Denon DVD-1600 DVD-Audio to my reciever using 3 pairs of their G-Snake cables and am very happy with the results. I got my G-Snake cables for $30 CND each pair so that would equate to about $23 US. Very good quality, nice looking, and good price.
     
  19. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
     
  20. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 1997
    Messages:
    19,412
    Likes Received:
    312
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
     

Share This Page