RCA Interconnects- worthwhile upgrading?

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For what it's worth... my A/B comparison:
I purchased 2 Audioquest .75M USB C to USB B cables, a Forest and a Cinnamon ($70 and $90 respectively).

I noticed no sound quality difference or improvement over the $10 Ugreen 6ft cable that I was using and so I returned the AQ cables.

(MacBook USB to Yamaha R-N800 USB, various hi res streaming services and some hi res FLAC's on my drive).
I guess my gear and ears are not worthy and too 'budget'?
Well, digital cables are a different matter, and ime are mostly less sensitive to changes in construction. Of course, if your kit is picking up noise, or unwittingly delivering it to your DAC, then a better digital cable can make a surprising difference.

But back to interconnects…!
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
I am always fascinated by these cable discussions, on one side of the coin there are some who will go for an expensive cable because it gives them something that a less expensive cable doesn't, on the other side of the coin those who believe that a strand of bell wire will be just fine as anything else is a waste of money, the majority of us fit somewhere in-between.

In reality there is no right answer, the OP must simply decide what they want to pay for a cable, my cables are Chord and one step above entry level, why these, well it was the only ones where the store had sufficient stock of the same cable to join all my bits together, did I audition others - no.

For me it is about buying a cable that is of good quality from a reputable brand that is going to do the job it was designed for.
 
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Tinman1952

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Like most cable debates this is likely doomed to polarising animosity....
My personal view is a cable should be well constructed and appropriate to the user's available budget. Speakers and amplifiers have way more effect on a system's performance.
Having said that....I personally have often heard differences between cables. They do not ADD anything but a bad cable can certainly take away information.
To the scientific 'objectivists' I would say...
Science does not even begin to understand how human hearing works. The sophistication of the human brain (because this is what is doing the 'hearing'...not the ears!) is a miracle.
Our ability to detect differences in timing of a few MILLIONTHS of a second and the importance of transient timing to perceive tone and timbre simply cannot be boiled down to a couple of electrical characteristics/measurements in a wire.
If you hear a long term difference between cables you are not imagining it.....ignore the 'just fooling yourself comments' by the closed minds brigade... this is a hobby to be enjoyed on many levels not a basis for humiliating other audiophiles.
 

Gray

Well-known member
....on the other side of the coin those who believe that a strand of bell wire will be just fine as anything else is a waste of money
I've never seen anyone actually say that - plenty advise against using anything so thin.

Although, let's all be honest here, who'd bet significant money on being able to reliably tell the difference between it and whatever cable they're using.

If we couldn't happily take that challenge - why would we be so quick to dismiss what should be such an easy challenge?

Funny thing is though, in the unlikely event that bellwire was found to actually sound better....snobs wouldn't dream of using it....too cheap....and therein lies the real problem with cable debates.
 
My opinion is, if you don’t try something you will never know.
If you are on a tight budget or don’t see how cables could or would make any difference so are reluctant to spend, I’d say look at quality construction first, and just improve what you already have incrementally. Meaning, if you hear no discernible difference at least you have improved the construction quality and probably the longevity of it. If you hear a difference that you perceive as an improvement then all the better.
Having spent what I consider a lot of money, my money, on kit I still only buy cables that are more on the affordable side of things. Shopping around for used bargains has helped my get some really nice speaker cables. £160 may to some seem expensive , but they will last me out. My interconnects were on offer, and my Xlr were under £75. They are used with an amp that was over £9K And cd at £4K. I suppose I look at them with the opinion that they are well made, quality products so I don’t question whether or not they sound better/worse/ different. I’m just happy with them.
 

abacus

Well-known member
Like most cable debates this is likely doomed to polarising animosity....
My personal view is a cable should be well constructed and appropriate to the user's available budget. Speakers and amplifiers have way more effect on a system's performance.
Having said that....I personally have often heard differences between cables. They do not ADD anything but a bad cable can certainly take away information.
To the scientific 'objectivists' I would say...
Science does not even begin to understand how human hearing works. The sophistication of the human brain (because this is what is doing the 'hearing'...not the ears!) is a miracle.
Our ability to detect differences in timing of a few MILLIONTHS of a second and the importance of transient timing to perceive tone and timbre simply cannot be boiled down to a couple of electrical characteristics/measurements in a wire.
If you hear a long term difference between cables you are not imagining it.....ignore the 'just fooling yourself comments' by the closed minds brigade... this is a hobby to be enjoyed on many levels not a basis for humiliating other audiophiles.
The senses of biological life forms suck and are easily fooled into hearing, seeing, feeling etc. things that are not there, so your claims are meaningless.
A good example of this is the wide image and depth of sound from the front speakers that you hear, when in actual fact it does not exist (And never has), it is just your ear/brain being fooled into believing there is, when there isn't.

Bill
 
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Fandango Andy

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On another forum a poster said that a secondhand cable he bought benefitted from a period of 'burn-in'.

Another was praising his cables.
I asked if he could blindly tell cables apart....he quickly dismissed the idea of blind testing (as they often do), telling me that I need to be patient (to appreciate the benefits of a cable change).

Make what you will of the above.
(I'll keep what I make of it to myself 🙂).
Blind testing doesn't work, it requires the listener to make a random decision. It's far better to rely on reviews, preconceived ideas, and what the bloke in the shop told you. 😉
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
I've never seen anyone actually say that - plenty advise against using anything so thin.

Although, let's all be honest here, who'd bet significant money on being able to reliably tell the difference between it and whatever cable they're using.

If we couldn't happily take that challenge - why would we be so quick to dismiss what should be such an easy challenge?

Funny thing is though, in the unlikely event that bellwire was found to actually sound better....snobs wouldn't dream of using it....too cheap....and therein lies the real problem with cable debates.
The whole issue with Hifi or many other things is 'budget', if you have money more often than not you'll migrate to gear that is more expensive.

If you have £,000's to spend on your hobby you'l spend it, so if that includes cables that cost a few hundred or more per metre then that is what you buy, if you don't have that budget then you adjust your spend accordingly.

My point was to highlight the silly extremes leaving the middle ground (which is still vast) where some sensibility exists, but even then what you are willing to spend or what I am willing to spend can be very different, we are not wrong just different, at the end of the day could I tell the difference between Chord entry, Chord middle or Chord top, probably not.

However if I was buying a setup comprising of a £5k turntable, £4k CD/Streamer/DAC, £4k Amp and £4k speakers making £17k in total where would I pitch my cable purchase top, middle or bottom? I expect most people would go top, is that because they can hear the difference; no of course not, its because it fits in with the system they have purchased, it provides a balance.

Would I spend top dollar on cables for use in a system costing £5k, no my cable buy would be appropriate to the system price.

For my little system the entry Chord cables would have been fine but the store simply didn't have them so I took one step up.

At the end of the day for many it will be overall budget that will determine spend on cables.

I don't think that it has anything to do with snobbery, more about what budget you have to spend.
 
There’s definitely some psychology involved. I believe that a popular idea, which I completely understand, is to think of cables a bit like British Cycling or Formula 1 teams do. That is, incremental gains accumulate.

A smoother clothing, or aerodynamic pedals shave a few hundredths off a track time, so why wouldn’t more refined metallurgy or jewel-like plugs let a bit more lovely sound through?

I think ‘icing on the cake’ is the old analogy, or maybe the cherry on top?!
 
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I've read what I can here and elsewhere (with the usual diverse opinions), about the benefits of upgrading interconnects.
I am currently using UGreen interconnects which look reasonable quality, and the plugs fit well.I have a WiiM Pro Plus, a Denon 600ne amp, Marantz 41 CDP and Triangle Br03 speakers. I am happy with the sound but curious- how much would I have to spend on RCA interconnects to notice any difference with my gear, if at all ?
I'm guessing you will say my present interconnects are fine at my level.
Not unless the UGreens are damaged and not functioning out of one channel.

That's why I have no plans on changing my Merlin Chopins or Chord I/C.
 

Gray

Well-known member
However if I was buying a setup comprising of a £5k turntable, £4k CD/Streamer/DAC, £4k Amp and £4k speakers making £17k in total where would I pitch my cable purchase top, middle or bottom? I expect most people would go top, is that because they can hear the difference; no of course not, its because it fits in with the system they have purchased, it provides a balance.
I totally get what you've said there and fully understand why people would think that a higher cable spend would seem appropriate.

But the motive - 'to provide balance'.
If, like you, those people are honest enough to admit that an improvement in sound is unlikely.....then they are balancing purely on price.
And that's what encourages those ridiculous extremes in pricing.
When you look at a range of cables it's amazing how, with each jump in pricing you're promised greater 'insight' etc.

People read that, they believe it,they preach it on forums (even before buying it).
And yet, they sort of know that they're getting no benefit other than to provide that balance in pricing.

Let's not judge them by calling them snobs or stupid but....
We agree that paying more (than necessary) will most likely bring no sonic benefit.
Let's say a person spent considerably more than necessary, he bought a cable based solely on price. How would you describe that person? (There must be a description 🤔).

EDIT: 'Misguided' is probably a fair description.
 
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Oxfordian

Well-known member
I totally get what you've said there and fully understand why people would think that a higher cable spend would seem appropriate.

But the motive - 'to provide balance'.
If, like you, those people are honest enough to admit that an improvement in sound is unlikely.....then they are balancing purely on price.
And that's what encourages those ridiculous extremes in pricing.
When you look at a range of cables it's amazing how, with each jump in pricing you're promised greater 'insight' etc.

People read that, they believe it,they preach it on forums (even before buying it).
And yet, they sort of know that they're getting no benefit other than to provide that balance in pricing.

Let's not judge them by calling them snobs or stupid but....
We agree that paying more (than necessary) will most likely bring no sonic benefit.
Let's say a person spent considerably more than necessary, he bought a cable based solely on price. How would you describe that person? (There must be a description 🤔).

I just think that too much is made about how much people spend on boxes and the cabling connecting the boxes.

At the end of the day as long as the buyer is happy with their purchase I really don't care if they bought £50, £500 or £5000 interconnects or speaker cables. All I would advise is to do so in proportion to main system outlay.

A large number of people buying hifi setups will end up with what the dealer recommends or what was connected when they demo'd the system - this could well be the same, simply because if they like the sound they heard then why change something.

If we don't believe that there is a benefit in better cabling then is there a benefit in upgrading any part of a hifi system, for example is there a benefit in upgrading my Audiolab 6000CDT to the 7000 or even the 9000, will I hear an improvement in sound if I did?

Upgrades in our systems are not often going to give us a wow moment when we plug in that new bit we have bought. In addition we are rarely in a position to compare our systems from yesterday to our system today so we have to believe that spending £200 on a pair of swanky RCA inter-connects to replace our £25 basic set is giving us an improvement.

So for me if I want to splash a bit of cash on my HiFI and think to myself that those cables have been on there a while I'll get some new ones give the old system a bit of a treat what's wrong with that, does there have to be a defined improvement in SQ or can a perceived one suffice.
 
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My2Cents

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Well, digital cables are a different matter, and ime are mostly less sensitive to changes in construction. Of course, if your kit is picking up noise, or unwittingly delivering it to your DAC, then a better digital cable can make a surprising difference.

But back to interconnects…!
An interconnect is the physical linking of two components regardless of whether it's digital or analog.
 

Dom

Well-known member
I just think that too much is made about how much people spend on boxes and the cabling connecting the boxes.

At the end of the day as long as the buyer is happy with their purchase I really don't care if they bought £50, £500 or £5000 interconnects or speaker cables. All I would advise is to do so in proportion to main system outlay.

A large number of people buying hifi setups will end up with what the dealer recommends or what was connected when they demo'd the system - this could well be the same, simply because if they like the sound they heard then why change something.

If we don't believe that there is a benefit in better cabling then is there a benefit in upgrading any part of a hifi system, for example is there a benefit in upgrading my Audiolab 6000CDT to the 7000 or even the 9000, will I hear an improvement in sound if I did?

Upgrades in our systems are not often going to give us a wow moment when we plug in that new bit we have bought. In addition we are rarely in a position to compare our systems from yesterday to our system today so we have to believe that spending £200 on a pair of swanky RCA inter-connects to replace our £25 basic set is giving us an improvement.

So for me if I want to splash a bit of cash on my HiFI and think to myself that those cables have been on there a while I'll get some new ones give the old system a bit of a treat what's wrong with that, does there have to be a defined improvement in SQ or can a perceived one suffice.
You should care. Its misleading to say a £50 cable will improve your audio.

Its not a treat. Your falling for a scam, buddy. Daylight robbery.
 
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My2Cents

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Just avoid junk like the cheap skinny ones that have no shielding. Something substantial with crimped plugs (that make a tight connection) and keep the length as short as possible.
The Ugreen RCA cables I have seen on Amazon don't have 'crimped' plugs and so if they don't grip the female socket, I would personally avoid them.
You probably can't go wrong with 'The Worlds Best Cables'. After all, they are made in Japan and use Mogami cable. £30 on Amazon.
 

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abacus

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I just think that too much is made about how much people spend on boxes and the cabling connecting the boxes.

At the end of the day as long as the buyer is happy with their purchase I really don't care if they bought £50, £500 or £5000 interconnects or speaker cables. All I would advise is to do so in proportion to main system outlay.

A large number of people buying hifi setups will end up with what the dealer recommends or what was connected when they demo'd the system - this could well be the same, simply because if they like the sound they heard then why change something.

If we don't believe that there is a benefit in better cabling then is there a benefit in upgrading any part of a hifi system, for example is there a benefit in upgrading my Audiolab 6000CDT to the 7000 or even the 9000, will I hear an improvement in sound if I did?

Upgrades in our systems are not often going to give us a wow moment when we plug in that new bit we have bought. In addition we are rarely in a position to compare our systems from yesterday to our system today so we have to believe that spending £200 on a pair of swanky RCA inter-connects to replace our £25 basic set is giving us an improvement.

So for me if I want to splash a bit of cash on my HiFI and think to myself that those cables have been on there a while I'll get some new ones give the old system a bit of a treat what's wrong with that, does there have to be a defined improvement in SQ or can a perceived one suffice.
The items you mention are active components, cables are not, hence the comparison between the 2 does not apply.
 
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DougK1

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There's a lot of pseudo-science about strands of copper, an example I've given many times is power cables and TT phono leads. Do we really believe a manufacturer would knowingly include a sub-standard power cable with their kit, or a sub-standard phono lead with their TT? My TT phono cable is one piece, wired directly to the armboard, to replace it would require a re-wire. I trust Clearaudio know what they're doing regarding cables and have not gone down the route of fitting a sub-standard cable to make their product sound worse than it could with a 'better' cable, they'd be crazy to even think it.

This applies to speaker cables and interconnects too, it's a bit of copper, it has no magical properties whatsoever. I've got some basic QED XT40 speaker cables, they sound no different to the Van Damme Blue 1.5mm they replaced, but QED state their cable is superior with lots of marketing blurb to support these claims. Hell it's even got a plastic tube down the centre so the electrons can only travel down the outside of the tube, methinks they introduced the plastic tube to cut down on copper costs and then invented marketing blurb to substantiate it. The cable sleeve colour matches my decor perfectly... this is the only reason I bought it, same for my interconnects.

Kit is different, this is where I think spend does actually make a difference, but it has to be a major leap to be considered ear-significant, jumping a couple of levels upwards worked for me. I would love to test some £1000 speaker cables in my system but I think my money is best spent on better kit or music, not cables.

The only time I've ever heard a definite difference with cables was true bell-wire, single-strand shotgun vs VDB 1.5mm.

Your money your choice but don't come back and spout differences unless you have blind-tested your theories.
 
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My2Cents

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Well, fair enough if that how you interpret it, but to me the original question and the replies before yours were all about analogue cables where electrical properties have known consequences. Digital transmission isn’t comparable imho.
You may be correct, but try telling that to Audioquest (and other manufacturers of high end 'digital' connects)!
Apparently their £800 'Solid 100% Perfect-Surface Silver' USB cable transmits 0's and 1's better than their £50 'Solid Long-Grain Copper' cable!
 
You may be correct, but try telling that to Audioquest (and other manufacturers of high end 'digital' connects)!
Apparently their £800 'Solid 100% Perfect-Surface Silver' USB cable transmits 0's and 1's better than their £50 'Solid Long-Grain Copper' cable!
Of course it does. Have you not heard of Quicksilver?
The bits get there so much quicker... :)
 

Oxfordian

Well-known member
You should care. Its misleading to say a £50 cable will improve your audio.

Its not a treat. Your falling for a scam, buddy. Daylight robbery.
Where do I say that a £50 cable will improve sound?

I said that I don't care how much you or anyone else spends on their cables as long as they are happy. My only add is that cable spend should be proportionate to the spend on the system.

If I want to treat my self to some different cable for my system then I am free to do so, it's not a scam, it's not daylight robbery, its about choice. I'm not spending your money I'm spending my money.

Your comment highlights exactly what is wrong with these cable debates, in too many people's eyes spending more than absolutely nothing is wasted money.

Oh, one last thing, please don't call me buddy.
 

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