Reasonably Priced (about $100) Interconnect Cables???

Discussion in 'Accessories, Cables, and Remotes' started by RichardJ, Aug 11, 2003.

  1. RichardJ

    RichardJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi -

    First off - I used the search, so please don't flame me!!! [​IMG] I also know there is a seperate forum for setup - but it really doesn't have the action that this one does, so I am suspicious of the pool of opinions.

    It's just that there are so many choices for interconnect cables, and so many snake oil peddlers in this field.

    I would love to know some suggestions for a good 5 cable set - not 100% perfet and $500 bucks a cable - but a set that gets you most of the way there without breaking the bank. In my budget BetterCables (even the Silver Serpent, at $50 a pop) are breaking the bank - $250 is some serious cash for cables!

    I have had the following brands suggested (prices of a 5 cable set in brackets):

    - Heartland [$125 with Eichmann bullet plugs, sleeved]
    - Blue Jeans [$66 color coded and sleeved]
    - Cat Cables [$110 for Cablecats, $180 for Bluetigers]
    - Better Cables Silver Serpent [about $250] (shout out to forum sponsor)
    - Cobalt Cables [136, color coded and sleeved]

    Any opinions (as if there aren't!) on something like the Blue Jeans cables for less than $70 are as good as Heartland cables costing twice as much, or Bettercables costing four times as much?

    Thanks a ton!
     
  2. Roger Kaufmann

    Roger Kaufmann Stunt Coordinator

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    I only have one Blue Jeans cable (componet cable) and have to say I'm impressed with the value. Great quality, great service and I'm probably going to use them in the future.
     
  3. Jaime B

    Jaime B Stunt Coordinator

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    Richard;

    Go to the OUTLAW AUDIO (the AMP guys) website. They came out with affordable and very hi-quality cables (for the price). you can call em too. The PCA Pure Copper cables, in (for example0 1.2 meters will set you back $129.95 for three pairs (6 cables).

    I don't know how they sound but the built quality is impressive and Outlaw Audio is a first class operation.

    Hope this helps.

    JaimeB
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well I'll jump into this [​IMG]

    I'll first begin by saying that I'm no fan of Eichmann as you're paying more for something of dubious value and arguably poor mechanical durability. Not to say that the RCA plug is some kind of wunderkind but it's certainly not as flimsy or as overpriced unless you choose one that is.

    With regards to interconnects, it's irrelevent whether the conductor is copper, silver over copper, silver. The primary electrical parameter that's of any importance is capacitance with lower being theoretically better. You'll find capacitance specifed as "picofarads/foot" that is in the cases where it is specified. Theoretically because generally speaking one is going from lower impedance (preamp) to the input of an amp which has higher impedance. A lower overall capacitance results in a flatter frequency response with no roll-off of high frequencies. Temper your concern or enthusiasm by considering that it takes a fair amount of capacitance (very high capacitance cable or very long lengths) for this to become an audible issue. Nonetheless, I can't think of any sane reason why one would willingly choose an interconnect with a high capacitance.
    There are other reasons why a low capacitance interconnect is desireable. For example if you're running a passive preamp, low capacitance interconnects are easier to drive especially if distances are very long (2 meters is not long btw). Also, it does happen from time to time, that your source, say the preamp, CD player, tube devices etc. is load sensitive. This can manifest itself as non-linear behavior at the upper frequency regions and even audible amounts of distortion. Thankfully this is not commonplace. While it's not correct to blame the cable in this case by the same token there is again, no rational reason to choose a cable with high capacitance. So what is a decent performing, low capacitance cable? The ones from Radio Shack are about 15 pf/foot.

    Another factor to consider is shielding. You'll find some cables that are basically unshielded and instead are twisted/braided. Others have a braid such as in coax. The latter is a superior approach when properly implemented. But again, it can be a non-issue in either case if you have no major AC fields being generated.

    Lastly the connector is something to give a bit of thought about. Canare makes well engineered and not overly expensive ones. Other companies, recognizing that all RCA plugs tend to be a bit non-standard in their diameters, go the approach of locking RCA's. The Outlaw cables are an example of this and while they won't accept a return unless the product is defective, appear to be a decently made product.

    One could even use interconnects that are found in car stereo applications such as the StreetWires brand which are also well-made.

    So you might consider beginning your search by contacting various manufacturers or assemblers for capacitance data. If the place doesn't know the value, walk away. You're dealing with a place that is clueless and doesn't know it's product. Sort that into two groups: above and below 15pf/ft. Then consider the other aspects as mentioned above. If you're still at a loss which one to pick, then pick the one that looks the nicest.
     
  5. RichardJ

    RichardJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow... nice explanation Chu Gai! Thanks for the info... looks like I have some e-mails to send!
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    The thing is, is for you to define the criteria that are important to you. For example if it's price then you find the best among that price. I think in the end you'll find a number of interconnects that are quite suitable (for example, Daytons and other brands from partsexpress, AR's, etc.) and realistically speaking, audibly impossible to differentiate. So if it comes down to two do whatever you want to decide. Flip a coin, pick a card, ask your significant other what she likes and pick the opposite, see which one your dog or cat pisses on and choose the other, get a magic eightball. The funny thing is, that a lot of the audiophile brands don't do such a good job on capacitance. So why pay more for a poor approach to a basic problem. While your at it, try to smile as you read the funny theories some of these places put out. A beer or four is strongly recommended.
     
  7. RichardJ

    RichardJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Ha!

    Thanks again! I'm asking some places for info - then I'll so the opposite of what a drunken magic cat says...

    Seems like a lot of smoke and mirrors - but I understand buyers remorse, and that avoiding it (even if you spend a little extra) has a psychological value.
     
  8. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Interestingly, the new issue of DVD, etc. has a review of some Blue Jean cables and, unless I've missed something along the way, offers it the highest score they've ever given for any piece of hardware. They do divide their reviews into three categories according to price and put the Blue Jeans in the budget category for this reason, but still appear quite impressed by the quality of the product.

    My cables are all Rhino, Cats, and Signals. All nice for a reasonable price. Of these, I like the Cats best for their build quality and for the fact that the maker will really go out of his way to make a good fit for your system. Rhino would be second. Much like Blue Jeans, a quality company and product with great customer service and a reasonable price.
     
  9. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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  10. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    To put a little persective regarding the roll-off of frequencies, consider the following statement made by Fred Davis who has presented and published in peer-reviwed journals.
     
  11. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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    I was looking around on Audiogon with this same question and a lot of people seemed to like the SignalCable analog 2:

    Signal Cable analog 2

    $50 for a 2 ft pair. It may be something else you should consider.

    Mark
     
  12. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    I have CatCables, Better Cables, and HomeGrown Audio cables all throughout my system. My favorites are the Homegrown Audio silver lace, but the best for price/performance are the Better Cables silver serpents. Good make, good sleeving, good sound, not too expensive. But the Homegrown Silver Laces will compete with any cable up to $1000/m, IMHO. Good luck, and trust your ears.
     
  13. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    I've got a variety of cables in my system as well and like Dana I'm very fond of my silvercat's with their locking barrels[​IMG] Email doug the owner of catcables and ask for a quote..he usually moves a little from the list prices on the website...at least he does when you ask nicely[​IMG]
     
  14. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    But you still gotta play by our rules. Post cable and interconnect queries here in the proper section.
     
  15. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    You listed specific model info for both Homegrown and BC. As many models as CAT has, without specific model info on them, it's difficult to know how fair the comparison is. I mean, if your comparing cables that cost half as much again, comparing them isn't that easy. For instance, you may be able to buy Kingcats for the price of either above cable. Have you tried those? But as Richard pointed out, you can buy 5 Cablecats for less than a pair of the other
    cables you mentioned.
     
  16. JohnBrianW.

    JohnBrianW. Stunt Coordinator

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    Check out rhinocables I just ordered a digital coaxial from them. They get great reviews in the audioasylum.
     
  17. Adam_Reiter

    Adam_Reiter Second Unit

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    I exclusively use Canare cables with 75ohm Canare connectors with my system. IMO, Canare offers the best bang for your buck. Hefty and well made cables. I use the "best" Canare wire in the LV-77S cable. This guy Mark from Cable Solutions sells on his website and on eBay. The cables are about $28 ea so you are looking at $56/pair.

    Blue Jeans Cables also offers Canare. But I like Cable Solutions better. I have bought almost $1000 worth of cables from Mark. He goes the extra mile for you.

    This is an example of the cables I use.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=14965

    Alot of major studio's use Canare Cables. Good enough for the recording... good enough for me. [​IMG] You owe it to yourself to check them out.
     
  18. Vishnu Th

    Vishnu Th Auditioning

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    I use ZuCable for my interconnects. I liked it a lot. You can checkout ebay for some good deals.
     

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