Question about cables - newbie here

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mike Borbakov, Jul 23, 2001.

  1. Mike Borbakov

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    okay, i hear a lot of people using these high quality connector cable RCAs and stuff and high quality 8g speaker wire. i have pretty small wire to my speakers and i have radioshack brand RCAs. would getting more expensive ones make a big difference in sound quality or is it just all hype? what's the difference between the expensive ones and radioshack ones. and how much do "good" ones go for? are they really expensive or what? i wanna know if they make a big enough difference for me to want to care. thanks
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Depends on:
    * What kind of speaker wire you're using now
    * What kind you plan to upgrade to
    * What source/amplification/speakers you use
    * How much of an ear you have for picking out details
    For instance, if you're using decent speakers (around a few hundred dollars a pair) with a comparable amp and 22 or 24 gauge zip cord with 20 ft runs to the speakers, then yes, upgrading to even the 12 gauge speaker cable that is available for less than $1/ft will give you very noticable improvements. From there, upgrading further to $100/ft speaker wire will probably produce little to no improvement, and will definitely not yeild 100 times the improvement. The law of diminishing returns kicks in pretty quickly somewhere around here.
    As a rough guideline, for an average system, don't spend more than 10% of your total budget on interconnects/speaker wire. If you have more money than that to spare, you would probably have been better off spending that on better amps or speakers in the first place.
     
  3. John-D

    John-D Stunt Coordinator

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  4. Mike Borbakov

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    what about rca cables?
    do better ones make a good difference or is it just kind of a "u need THIS to have a high end system!" kind of thing?
     
  5. Chauncey_G

    Chauncey_G Second Unit

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    Currently, I am using Monster Cable on virtually everything other than my speakers. For them, I'm using some left-over speaker wire from a movie theater construction site that I worked doing install a while back.
    Now, following this post you may see a boat-load of people screaming and pulling their hair saying "Monster Cable is such a rip-off! It's all advertising! It's all hype!" They will then proceed to tell you that you will either need to 1) get the stuff at the Shack because it's as good as anything else out there; or 2) that to really get the most out of your system you need a $500.00 cable that is approximately 2 feet in length to connect your CD player to your receiver.
    I go with Monster Cable mostly because in my experience they have proven themselves to be good cables, and they are readily available in any Best Buy around (I also think they look cool as well [​IMG] ). I am NOT going to spend more than I do on the Monsters because if cabling DOES make a difference, I'd be surprised if I would be able to tell in my less-than-perfect listening/HT room. Now, if I had spent bags of cash to make sure that my set-up was in an acoustically perfect room (and, for that matter, if I had spent bags of cash to make sure my set-up was the pinnacle of sound technology), then I might consider it because then I might be able to tell the precise differences that cables can make.
    So, buy what you are comfortable with. I think that good cables probably will make a difference, but I don't know how much "great" cables will do for you depending on your equipment and environment.
     
  6. John-D

    John-D Stunt Coordinator

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  7. Doug Dickeson

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    I'm with Saurav on this one. It makes absolutely no sense to spend, say, $500 on cables when the rest of your system cost $1500. At that price point, your weakest link is not your cables. It's in the other components. On the other hand, RS cables in a $10,000 system will be the weakest link.
    Using the 10 to 15 per cent guidline for cables is a reasonable figure. That's what I went with.
     
  8. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    One of my theories that seems to work is:
    - Music is about accuracy
    - HT is about IMPACT
    So if you use your system for movies, good quality RCA interconnects from Radio Shack, AR are fine. You dont want/need high-accuracy from your cables/speakers.
    If you start getting into Audiophile music reproduction (meaning dedicated listening rooms, pre-pro systems, very accurate speakers) then the cables CAN produce a slight difference in sound.
    But then, your budget of 10% of your total system cost should give you a lot more money to play with.
    I've not heard of people using 8 ga wire in their homes. (In their car perhaps).
    Several speaker sites recommend:
    16 ga for runs < 10 feet
    14 ga for runs 10-20 feet
    12 ga for runs > 20 feet
    But most of us just buy a spool of good 12 ga and use it everywhere.
     
  9. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    Real Name:
    Mike
     
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    this is a copy & paste from a previous post of mine:
    here's my two cents.
    cables can make a difference, but only up to a point. somewhere i posted a long-winded explantion as to how i came to this theory, but i'll give the abbreviated version here.
    NOTE: this is a less-than-scientific procedure, but i think the test was reasonable & fair.
    1. for testing: i used the dual audio-outputs on my sony dvd player. i plugged one into the cd input, the other into the tape monitor. that way, i could "toggle" between the two cables being tested. i used the skinny cables (supplied by manufacturer), radio shack & monster (300 series)
    2. did A/B comparison between skinny & radio-shack - heard a difference. decided i would upgrade to at least the rat-shack stuff.
    3. did blind (girlfriend wired system so i wouldn't know what was on what input) A/B comparison between radio-shack & monster - thought it sounded different, but couldn't make a final prognosis. i actually gave myself a head-ache i was trying to listen so hard for a difference.
    4. since i couldn't hear a difference and the radio-shack was 1/3rd the cost, the answer was obvious to me.
    i think this is something that will never be answered. i could swear i've read articles that tried to be as objective as possible - strictly using whatever measurement devices they had - and they couldn't notice anything. of course, no one can tell someone what they are or aren't hearing. if you hear a difference, then the investment was worth it.
    the golden rule of audio (at least to me) - "if you hear it, then it exists." - hey...that may have to be my new auto-sig!
    btw - i actually sent an email to soundandvision mag about this issue - these are direct quotes:
    my question:
    "Here's a can of worms I'd like to open. Is there any improvement in sound when using "higher-quality" interconnects and wires? My informal testing noted a difference between the stock cables that come with the component and a modestly priced consumer brand (Radio Shack). When I compared the Radio Shack cables with Monster Cables, I couldn't hear any noticeable difference.Is it just my ears or what?"
    their answer:
    "No, it's not your ears. A landmark double-blind listening test done years ago by Stereo Review reached the same conclusions."
    ------------------
    You step in the stream,
    But the water has moved on.
    This page is not here.
     
  11. Tyler

    Tyler Stunt Coordinator

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    Catcables are verry good [​IMG]
     
  12. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    oh yeah...i forgot the most important part of my message:
    go test for yourself and see if you hear a difference. you can always return the cable (if it's from a reputable place) if you don't feel you need it.
    in the end, your ears will get the final vote.
    [​IMG]
    ------------------
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    But the water has moved on.
    This page is not here.
     
  14. Mike Borbakov

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    well here's my setup
    Sony 70 watt receiver (soon to be NAD C 350 int amp)
    JBL S26
    discman as cd source (upgrade after i upgrade sony)
    thats basically it. i have a JVC tape deck which isnt bad and i dont listen to tapes very much. got it from a buddy for 50 bucks that needed money. and i have a Dual Turntable, it used to be my dad's.
    so basically im upgrading my stuff. it's just for 2 channel stereo music, no HT.
    i think the wire is 18g. it runs for probably 15 ft give or take a few feet. would going 14 or 12g change anything? im not thinking it would. and im not worried about RCAs any more, i have radioshack RCAs now and i dont see how different ones would make a difference. i dont think the wire would either. but i want my stuff to sound as good as possible so im willing to hear suggestions. i know i dont have a really high end system. im 17. i work with my dad for 2 dollars an hour. so please dont tell me my stuff sucks okay?
     
  15. dougW

    dougW Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, for one thing, without commenting specifically about the cables I build, a difference in build quality could result in a difference in the longevity of the cable.
    Secondly, with some manufacturers, customization is possible which just isn't out of the box, off the shelf.
    Third, I have seen Radio Shack connectors grip a female RCA plug so tight that when you pull it off, you actually pull the RCA female plug apart. What I saw this occur on was not a receiver, but a Radio Shack switching box. Very irritating problem.
    4th, I have seen standard pronge type plugs actually break off because they were bent back by accident. (No outer ring of protection over the connector itself.
    5th, sometimes, they just look better than the Rat Shack cables to you. If they look better, hey, they could sound better psychoaccoustically.
    6th Finally, there could actually be real differences discernable from differing cables. Of course, this can be system dependent. The higher resolution the system, the greater probability you can hear suttle nuances and changes in audio. As for video, it's been fairly well proven that there definitely can be a difference in video cables.
    As to digital? Well, some say yes, some say no. I say buy the best value in a cable and decide for yourself. But I personally have heard a difference in toslink and digital coax. IMO, coax normally is much smoother, less "digital". I posted something to HTT just recently on this subject. If your interested.
    Lex
    ------------------
    Lexman's Theater
     
  16. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Mike,
    Your system doesn't suck at all. The NAD is definitely one of the best amps in its class, the JBL speakers are very good too. Upgrading from a discman to a CD player will produce a big difference, because the quality of the digital-to-analog converter will improve. The NAD doesn't do any D/A conversion, so you need to get a CD player with good DACs - if it's in your budget, the Denon DCM-370 is an excellent product at about $250 - $300. There are other choices too, of course.
    What Radio Shack interconnects are you using? I have their Gold Series, which IMO are pretty well constructed for the price. If you have one of the cheaper ones with the thin cables and the cheap connectors, I daresay you might hear a difference giong to the Gold Series once you get the NAD and a decent CDP. IMO, a speaker wire change would make much less of a difference.
    Just for reference, I'm using a Denon DCM-270 (the 370 is a much better player, I initially regretted not getting that one in the first place, but now I hardly listen to CDs so it's not an issue any more), the NAD C340 (50 wpc, predecessor to the C350), Paradigm Mini Monitors (excellent speakers for $300/pr), 70's era Pioneer turntable. Pretty similar to your system, as you can see. I did hear an improvement with the Gold Series ICs, and didn't hear a difference going from 18 to 12 gauge speaker wire. YMMV, of course.
    Anyway, back to my initial point - your system is pretty much the best sound you can get at that price point, so if you had any notions that it sucks, throw them out the window RIGHT NOW [​IMG]
     

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