Does expensive speaker cable make a difference in sound quality?

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  • gammonbanter 20 Sep 2011 20:10:17 1,509 posts
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    A friend of mine has an entry level surround system from Richer Sounds - it's an Onkyo (or something like that). It's satisfactory, he thinks it's amazing.

    I've told him that buying more expensive speaker cable is stupid as it won't improve the sound, am I right?

    Also, does it ever make sense to upgrade speaker cables?
  • neilka 20 Sep 2011 20:12:14 16,247 posts
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    Obligatory
  • tuff 20 Sep 2011 20:18:20 628 posts
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    Yes more expensive cable does make a difference but more so on more expensive systems.
  • neosalad 20 Sep 2011 20:24:21 953 posts
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    kind of agree with Tuff, it's all relative to what yout connecting. better cable will not improve the sound on basic entry level amp or speakers, but better equipment it will help...

    and if someone had really good speakers and really good amp i would suggest good cable, why have the connection using shite after spending loads on a system...

    or.. if you had a ferrari or top of the range BMW etc, would you stick robin reliant (or insert a basic car type of your choice here) tyres on it...?
    .............................................
    didnt think so.....
  • mrpon 20 Sep 2011 20:25:26 29,190 posts
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    Only if you listen to Placebo.

    Give yourself 5 or gig, you're worth it.

  • jonsaan 20 Sep 2011 21:25:09 25,360 posts
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    Does as an expensive condom make a difference?

    FCUTA!

  • Khanivor 20 Sep 2011 21:26:02 40,944 posts
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    Obligatory
  • Carlo 20 Sep 2011 21:28:37 18,093 posts
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    Khan wins.

    I was about to quote the old coat-hanger as speaker cable joke. http://gizmodo.com/363154/audiophile-deathmatch-monster-cables-vs-a-coat-hanger

    PSN ID: Djini

  • Deleted user 20 September 2011 21:35:25
    tuff wrote:
    Yes more expensive cable does make a difference but more so on more expensive systems.

    No.
  • warlockuk 20 Sep 2011 21:45:36 19,185 posts
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    Heh, that deathmatch link is awesome.

    I'm a grumpy bastard.

  • gammonbanter 20 Sep 2011 22:00:17 1,509 posts
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    Hmmmm, I've been to proper studios where they are simply using standard cables! I think distance from source is more of an issue, where thicker cable might be needed!
  • Carlo 20 Sep 2011 22:02:25 18,093 posts
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    And onkyo is hardly entry is it?

    PSN ID: Djini

  • Dixie-Narco 20 Sep 2011 22:11:46 23 posts
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    Yes, it makes a difference, but that doesn't necessarily mean its better. The pricier cables often give a brighter sound which on first listen sounds more impressive, but after extended listening can be quite fatiguing.

    FWIW the best cabling I have used was 1.80 per metre from Maplins - I still use this in my current system which I consider to be high end.
  • Deleted user 20 September 2011 22:14:56
    Dixie-Narco wrote:
    Yes, it makes a difference, but that doesn't necessarily mean its better. The pricier cables often give a brighter sound which on first listen sounds more impressive, but after extended listening can be quite fatiguing.

    :D

    but no.
  • Deckard1 20 Sep 2011 22:31:20 28,724 posts
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    Aargh you know fuck all mate. I changed the cables on the external speakers on my Hitachi CX150 to some elite platinum plated golden egg reem cables, and although I enjoyed several months of a vastly brighter sound, I've now been diagnosed with "tired ear syndrome."
  • Carlo 20 Sep 2011 22:39:16 18,093 posts
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    And i'll just say this again. Best sound quality upgrade I got was getting my ears professionally cleaned this summer just gone.

    PSN ID: Djini

  • THFourteen 20 Sep 2011 22:50:27 33,843 posts
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    IMO always buy midrange shit and you'll be alright.
  • Mekanik 21 Sep 2011 02:14:23 3,600 posts
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    neilka wrote:
    Obligatory

    Hah. Those comments are awesome.

    Wish i could get them for my girlfriends hunter in wow, maybe she would be able to do stuff without dieing.
  • boo 21 Sep 2011 08:40:26 11,834 posts
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    gammonbanter wrote:
    A friend of mine has an entry level surround system from Richer Sounds - it's an Onkyo (or something like that). It's satisfactory, he thinks it's amazing.

    I've told him that buying more expensive speaker cable is stupid as it won't improve the sound, am I right?

    Also, does it ever make sense to upgrade speaker cables?

    Clearly this thread is not the place for straight answers, but I shall plough on regardless.

    Basically, every part of a hi-fi system makes the sound worse; the trick is to minimise the degradation.
    Back in the olden days, the thinking was "Big speakers = better sound". Then along came the likes of Linn, who said "It's all about the front end. If you lose the good sound to start with, you'll never get it back. On a separate note, we have a fantastic turntable which we'll sell you for an awful lot of money."

    As someone pointed out, on a Binatone system from Argos, circa 1978, you could hook the speakers up with oxygen free cable coated in unicorn skin, and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. On a higher end system, yes, it might. I did upgrade my speaker cable once, but that was partly because I wanted a longer run of cable.

    You can sit and tweak elements of a system until the cows come home, and convince yourself that spending 300 on a single, 0.5m metal-free cable is worth it (been there, done that), but at the end of the day, the only question you need to ask yourself is : 'Do I enjoy using it?'

    You shouldn't be listening to 'the hi-fi', you should be listening the music. When you're more worried about the state of the gold plating on your connectors than whether the new album by The Teen Wombat Collective is the greatest thing since Nevermind, then your priorities have got a bit skewed.

    Just Another Lego Blog

  • gammonbanter 2 Nov 2012 19:14:29 1,509 posts
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    So I was in Richer Sounds today and this debate came back to my mind - it is now me buying the cable for a new run and I'm still hesitant to go big on expensive cables. 99p a meter it is - am I wrong?
  • Deleted user 2 November 2012 19:17:42
    It certainly changes the sound in my experience.
  • LeoliansBro 2 Nov 2012 19:18:51 44,506 posts
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    Go to Comet.

    LB, you really are a massive geek.

  • Deleted user 2 November 2012 19:28:23
    expensive, no, better quality, yes.
  • Deleted user 2 November 2012 19:30:20
    Still no.

    Unless your speakers are, like, 20 metres away from each other.
  • RelaxedMikki 2 Nov 2012 19:50:01 935 posts
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    I don't think it makes a difference. In student days I half remember we did blind tests and everything.

    The tiniest touch on the volume control will make more of a difference than cable ever will.
  • skuzzbag 2 Nov 2012 20:09:46 5,651 posts
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    Buy the ones with the clear sheathing as everyone thinks you have really expensive ones then.
  • mcmothercruncher 2 Nov 2012 20:12:57 7,214 posts
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    There doesn't need to be a debate because there is an effect, but, because everyone's impression of sound is personal and subjective and (depending on what they paid for their gear) coloured, this argument will probably never end.

    I built guitar effect pedals as a hobby. Branched out into some quite complicated analogue synths too. I play around with capacitance to tweak sounds all the time when building circuits. Usually using- surprise- capacitors, but wire has the ability to act like a mini capacitor too... and that's where the problems comes in.

    If you boil it all down to the physics governing how the wire actually functions, it makes a measurable difference. Measurable in terms of an oscilloscope that can read the sound waves, but not necessarily measurable in terms of your lug holes, depending on the kit your auditioning and how you're listening.

    It might not seem like it, but your speaker cable wire is still a part of the overall audio circuit. And wire has a built in capacitance- very low, but it's there- that acts to slightly filter off frequencies (any frequencies potentially, but normally higher ones in these scenarios) and send them to ground. Not a problem in short runs inside the amp, but it becomes more noticeable when you've long runs of cable out to your speakers. It's the reason why cheaper cable can sound a little "dull" or "blunt". Just as when you turn your tone control down a touch, you're sending higher frequencies to ground via this long and cheap wire.

    I'm no audiophile, I just piss about with this stuff because I can't afford to buy boutique guitar effects at 300 a pop.
    When it comes to my stereo, I use mid priced cable but don't splash out too much. There are diminishing returns as you spend more and more.
  • RelaxedMikki 2 Nov 2012 20:14:30 935 posts
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    Or just solder the speakers striaight onto the back of the amp. With gold.
  • Bremenacht 2 Nov 2012 20:32:46 18,719 posts
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    It makes a huge difference and everyone really ought to mortage their house in order to get proper, expensive speaker cables. It's just not worth listening to music unless you're using proper, expensive speaker cables attached to proper, expensive speakers.
  • skuzzbag 2 Nov 2012 20:49:01 5,651 posts
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    No just get expensive looking gear and the brain will be fooled into hearing expensive sounds.

    A bit like buying apple stuff is to computing really.
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