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Best speaker cables 2020: budget and premium audio cables

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DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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Is that true?
I'm really not sure if it's a joke or not.
If it is true, it's quite clever marketing on Chord's part.
Well they had an X for expensive, Gray, so they must sound good. Not as Xpensive as the Signature XL though, I guess in this case the X = expensive and the L= luxury, or maybe Expensively Laughable :LOL:
 
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HifiMusicMan

Member
May 23, 2020
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Of course they can't. None of these cables work any better than a length of twin and earth cable you'd find in a skip. They might look nicer but they perform no better, and when you see that suppliers are offering a burn-in service, you just know that they're selling snake oil.
Mike. I suggest you listen to some high end hi-fi equipment under two different conditions, one with a good quality speaker cable and then with the cable you say that would be the same i.e. twin and earth. The difference you would hear (assuming there is nothing wrong with your hearing) is staggering. I am sure that you have not done this otherwise you would not be saying the things you have said. Of course cables make a greater difference in better systems than poorer performing ones. It would make no sense to be spending more on cable than all the other separates in the rest of the system put together, all things are relative. I challenge you to go and do a listening test yourself, hear the difference and come back and eat your words but I suspect you won't do that since you seem to be someone who has made up your mind without that and would certainly not admit to being wrong. So since you have no first hand experience of what you are saying your statements are invalid. If you do make the effort to do a listening comparison then let me know what you did or did not hear.
 

HifiMusicMan

Member
May 23, 2020
5
0
20
Of course they can't. None of these cables work any better than a length of twin and earth cable you'd find in a skip. They might look nicer but they perform no better, and when you see that suppliers are offering a burn-in service, you just know that they're selling snake oil.
Mike. I suggest you listen to some high end hi-fi equipment under two different conditions, one with a good quality speaker cable and then with the cable you say that would be the same i.e. twin and earth. The difference you would hear (assuming there is nothing wrong with your hearing) is staggering. I am sure that you have not done this otherwise you would not be saying the things you have said. Of course cables make a greater difference in better systems than poorer performing ones. It would make no sense to be spending more on cable than all the other separates in the rest of the system put together, all things are relative. I challenge you to go and do a listening test yourself, hear the difference and come back and eat your words but I suspect you won't do that since you seem to be someone who has made up your mind without that and would certainly not admit to being wrong. So since you have no first hand experience of what you are saying your statements are invalid. If you do make the effort to do a listening comparison then let me know what you did or did not hear.
 

Mike Hunt

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
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Mike. I suggest you listen to some high end hi-fi equipment under two different conditions, one with a good quality speaker cable and then with the cable you say that would be the same i.e. twin and earth. The difference you would hear (assuming there is nothing wrong with your hearing) is staggering. I am sure that you have not done this otherwise you would not be saying the things you have said. Of course cables make a greater difference in better systems than poorer performing ones. It would make no sense to be spending more on cable than all the other separates in the rest of the system put together, all things are relative. I challenge you to go and do a listening test yourself, hear the difference and come back and eat your words but I suspect you won't do that since you seem to be someone who has made up your mind without that and would certainly not admit to being wrong. So since you have no first hand experience of what you are saying your statements are invalid. If you do make the effort to do a listening comparison then let me know what you did or did not hear.
When you say "with a good quality speaker cable", do you mean one that isn't made by snake oil salesmen, who don't know how to make speaker cables, or do you just mean decent cable that isn't made by people whose only goal is to rip off gullible fools?
Bear in mind, I've owned lots of high end audio gear, and 'invested' in ridiculously priced cables, when I too used to be gullible, so either wind your neck in, or come and prove that you can hear a difference in blind tests.
 
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HifiMusicMan

Member
May 23, 2020
5
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When you say "with a good quality speaker cable", do you mean one that isn't made by snake oil salesmen, who don't know how to make speaker cables, or do you just mean decent cable that isn't made by people whose only goal is to rip off gullible fools?
Bear in mind, I've owned lots of high end audio gear, and 'invested' in ridiculously priced cables, when I too used to be gullible, so either wind your neck in, or come and prove that you can hear a difference in blind tests.
I mean ‘good quality speaker cable’, so any cable that has been specifically designed to connect an amplifier to a pair of speakers that has been made of high quality materials and is constructed in such a way as to keep out unwanted interference from RF and transmits the signal as cleanly and purely as possible without any degradation. Whether the cable is made of copper, silver etc. is not the issue as long as there are as few impurities as possible and that the outer sheath is made to shield the cable from RF and good quality connectors are used at both ends of the cable so as to ensure that the connection is clean and stable. What would you mean by quality speaker cable? Not that it seems you have actually made the effort to familiarise yourself with any. My challenge still stands that you should listen to a system with different cables in it and make the comparison and hear for yourself. This is not ‘snake oil’ or some version of the ‘emperor’s new clothes’, it is a real phenomenon that your ears will detect. Personally I don’t listen to salesmen telling me what they think (snake oil variety or otherwise). I listen to the music with my own ears and judge equipment based on what I actually hear in the music being reproduced. If a cable’s price is the only determining factor in buying it then the person buying it has done so for the wrong reason. A cable costing £1000 a metre may or may not be better than one costing £10 a metre but it should be! The only way to tell is to listen. The thing about all hi-fi (and probably all things generally) is that just because something is the most expensive it doesn’t mean it’s the best, but the best there is tends usually to be expensive. If you think that people are gullible parting with large sums then you may be right if those people are buying products purely based on what they cost and what they believe they should be like but personally I buy what sounds the best to me as long as it falls within my available budget. If you’re happy listening to speakers wired with twin and earth, great! I would not be happy with that at all and you do not know what you are missing out on by not listening to a well-made cable suited to the system it is being used in. If there was no difference in these things then using a car analogy: someone buying a Ferrari could simply fit cheap re-moulded tyres on it instead of expensive Pirelli tyres, after all according to your theory they are both the same, just lumps of rubber that go on the wheels and have air in them. The thing is though that your expensive Ferrari will not perform as it should with re-moulded tyres but it will with Pirellis. Hi-fi cables are very much the same.
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
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11,270
Strange my new speaker cables cost 4x that of those they replaced, guess what.... they both sounded exactly the same. There is no "staggering" differences between cables. Oh wait, maybe my system isn't revealing enough or maybe I should have spent £1000's on cables. It's a piece of copper!

The only distinct differences I have ever heard have been between amps, speakers, and cartridges.

The car analogy doesn't work here.
 

HifiMusicMan

Member
May 23, 2020
5
0
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There are most certainly differences between speaker cables. The ‘staggering’ difference I was referring to was the difference between the twin and earth that was being suggested by Mike and a well manufactured speaker cable. Also if you had read what I have written it would be clear to you that I was most definitely not suggesting that just because something costs considerably more it would be automatically better, I actually said that just because something was the most expensive that didn’t necessarily make it the best. So if you spent 4 times as much on your current cable than your previous cable it very well may not have been better but then who in their right mind would spend the money before they had listened to it first and established it was worth the money they spent. Again I clearly stated that I listen to a cable irrespective of its price to hear whether it is better or not before I decided to buy it (not being swayed by a salesman’s sales pitch). I would definitely not buy it simply because it cost 4 times the price of my current cable. Maybe you should read or reread my comment. Having a good signal transmission between amp and speakers is every bit as important as the other components you mentioned. Why stop at amps, speakers and cartridges? The cartridge can only perform well if the tonearm it is mounted on is up to the job too which in turn only works well in relation to the turntable it is mounted on which also needs to be well positioned on a suitable equipment stand etc. etc. These things have to work well together they cannot be considered in total isolation from each other, hence the car tyre analogy which is relevant. The two things need to be paired together correctly as one set of tyres may be fine for one vehicle but not good in another. Cables are like this too, some cables work better in some systems than others simply because there are so many different variables at work. Listen to them and then buy those that work for you, don’t spend thousands of pounds just because you think throwing money at it will solve the problem….it won’t!
 

DougK

Well-known member
Dec 8, 2013
744
431
11,270
I don't audition cables as it's a complete and utter waste of time. I bought the cables purely for their visual appeal and nothing more.

You have your take on this cable malarkey and I have mine. I am not swayed buy your opinions so I don't expect you to be swayed by mine. Guess there's not much else to say... unless you want to continue preaching.
 

Mike Hunt

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
154
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170
Not that it seems you have actually made the effort to familiarise yourself with any. My challenge still stands that you should listen to a system with different cables in it and make the comparison and hear for yourself. This is not ‘snake oil’ or some version of the ‘emperor’s new clothes’, it is a real phenomenon that your ears will detect.
I've done exactly this, and I've mic'd the speakers and recorded/analysed the results. Admittedly, I haven't done it with cables costing ridiculous sums of money, as the best they'll ever be is as good as 500 strand copper, but I noticed no discernible difference in the speaker cables I did test.
 

escksu

Member
Jul 3, 2020
2
0
20
Of course they can't. None of these cables work any better than a length of twin and earth cable you'd find in a skip. They might look nicer but they perform no better, and when you see that suppliers are offering a burn-in service, you just know that they're selling snake oil.
Not really. Cables do make a big big difference even for digital signals. Ideally, a cable will not alter the signal in anyway,. Unfortunately, this is impossible for our copper cables (maybe superconductors could). The resistance, inductance and capacitance, noise etc all affects the signal being sent. Digital signals are equally susceptible, just that it is alot more tolerant as minor variations will not change the "1" into "0". There is ECC for some protocols too. Long cables are very susceptible to noise, thats why shielding is sometimes needed.

We can also see the difference visually by using an oscilloscope. One common complain with many silver plated cable is that they sounded bright or sharp. This is because of the skin effect. Silver has a lower resistance than copper so high frequency signal will have lower loses. It can be seen in a frequency vs amplitude graph. We also know that capacitance and inductance all affects the signal.

I am not an audio engineer. However, I do have quite alot of experience with digital signals (part of my job). Digital signals are just as susceptible to noise as analog ones. Just more tolerant due to its nature.
 
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escksu

Member
Jul 3, 2020
2
0
20
I've done exactly this, and I've mic'd the speakers and recorded/analysed the results. Admittedly, I haven't done it with cables costing ridiculous sums of money, as the best they'll ever be is as good as 500 strand copper, but I noticed no discernible difference in the speaker cables I did test.
It would be better to connect an oscilloscope to the output of the amp and at the cable ends to get accurate results. Using mic is not accurate because its affected by speakers and even the mic itself and the room etc....
 

Mike Hunt

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
154
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170
It would be better to connect an oscilloscope to the output of the amp and at the cable ends to get accurate results. Using mic is not accurate because its affected by speakers and even the mic itself and the room etc....
Please feel free to do this and report back.
 

Rupert the Super Bear

Active member
Aug 8, 2020
1
2
25
Mike....

Every Hifi forum has its share of guys like you, obstinately banging on about blind listening tests, measurements, blah blah. For a start these naysayers - 21st century flat-earthers I call them - are just being downright rude in rubbishing the personal experience of thousands of other music lovers. You and your like-minded friends are also antagonistic about it - that in itself tells me something.

Let's get this straight, the experience of listening to music is NOT all about science. It's so difficult to explain to somebody with such a limited grasp of what music really represents, I find it downright depressing.

Please forgive this analogy if it sounds snotty, but I can't think of a better way to express myself without offending you. You have to understand that there are thousands of music lovers who can hear the difference between a great 17th century violin and one that was made in 2010 - in fact it's not that hard at all - but that difference can NOT be measured. OKAY? If you extend that analogy, that ability to distinguish something so subtle, so refined - then start to think about every instrument, every voice that one hears. It's no wonder that many music lovers want to fine tune their systems. Cabling happens to be one of the best ways to do this.

I think to some extent the type of music one listens to is important. I love just about everything to be honest, but some of the most magical music out there really deserves to be heard at its very best, for our ears / brain / heart to really enjoy it, to appreciate it. None of that can be measured.

As for blind listening tests, how do we know that one of the listeners couldn't distinguish between Anna Netrebko and Maria Callas, or between Celine Dion and Sandy Denny? Let's face it, some music sounds appalling on any kind of system, changing the cables wouldn't make a scrap of difference in that case! Maybe that's the bottom line with forums full of people getting so upset about cables and Hifi? I don't want to put this any more bluntly, but maybe I'll try it in a more humorous way.....

All cables are the same! Where are the measurements? I demand blind listening tests! I got my copper cables from an old fridge and they sound great! Where's my Oasis CD?
 
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alantb

Active member
Feb 12, 2020
5
4
25
Hate to take the temperature up a notch but I’ve just upgraded the Naim tuner interconnect from Clearway to Shawline (because I got a Epic for the NDX2 and shuffled everything along). What a difference! Smoother, fuller, richer and more involving sound from the tuner now. So worth it!
 

Mike Hunt

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
154
83
170
Mike....

Every Hifi forum has its share of guys like you, obstinately banging on about blind listening tests, measurements, blah blah. For a start these naysayers - 21st century flat-earthers I call them - are just being downright rude in rubbishing the personal experience of thousands of other music lovers. You and your like-minded friends are also antagonistic about it - that in itself tells me something.

Let's get this straight, the experience of listening to music is NOT all about science. It's so difficult to explain to somebody with such a limited grasp of what music really represents, I find it downright depressing.

Please forgive this analogy if it sounds snotty, but I can't think of a better way to express myself without offending you. You have to understand that there are thousands of music lovers who can hear the difference between a great 17th century violin and one that was made in 2010 - in fact it's not that hard at all - but that difference can NOT be measured. OKAY? If you extend that analogy, that ability to distinguish something so subtle, so refined - then start to think about every instrument, every voice that one hears. It's no wonder that many music lovers want to fine tune their systems. Cabling happens to be one of the best ways to do this.

I think to some extent the type of music one listens to is important. I love just about everything to be honest, but some of the most magical music out there really deserves to be heard at its very best, for our ears / brain / heart to really enjoy it, to appreciate it. None of that can be measured.

As for blind listening tests, how do we know that one of the listeners couldn't distinguish between Anna Netrebko and Maria Callas, or between Celine Dion and Sandy Denny? Let's face it, some music sounds appalling on any kind of system, changing the cables wouldn't make a scrap of difference in that case! Maybe that's the bottom line with forums full of people getting so upset about cables and Hifi? I don't want to put this any more bluntly, but maybe I'll try it in a more humorous way.....

All cables are the same! Where are the measurements? I demand blind listening tests! I got my copper cables from an old fridge and they sound great! Where's my Oasis CD?
I'm entitled to my opinion, and I'm entitled to express it, and my opinion is that the reason people won't do blind tests is because they're scared of the truth.
 
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