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  1. #1
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    speaker cable recommendations please

    I am finally looking at replacing my cheap Monster speaker cables...if in fact cables make a difference. I would spend around $500 but could go higher.

    The equipment I have is: bi-amped ESS Amt speakers, Bryston and Audio Research amps, Cal Audio Labs CD, and Levinson pre.

    Because of the makeup of my living room and location of my speakers, I need fairly long cables...about 16-18ft each.

    Your recommendations and thoughts are appreciated.

    Audiofan007

  2. #2
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Monster cables are by no means "cheap". They're just not as outrageously expensive as some of the other options out there. So long as you're using at least 14 gauge cables and the exposed wires aren't oxidized, any difference won't be much.

    In my cable tests, done under blind conditions, I've never found anything more than very subtle differences between cables. And this used a monophonic source, with switching done such that the cables can be randomly mixed in the L and R channels.

    The only noticeable difference that I've noticed between cables has been with interconnects, and that likely has more to do with the connectors than anything. Interconnects with better shielded connectors work better at minimizing EM interference, which reduces the noise level and ghosting on video images. And it doesn't take a big step up in price to get better quality in the connections.

    For $500, there are plenty of things that you can do that would make a far greater impact on your overall sound quality than cables can. IMO, the two biggest variables in an audio system are the speakers and the room acoustics. Next, the amp and source electronics. THEN, way down on the list comes the cables.

    You've already invested in the electronics, speakers, and front end sources. And it's not like you're using oxidized 24 gauge speaker wires. That leaves the room acoustics as the one variable that you have not yet addressed, and IMO that part of the equation is just as important as the speakers. Depending on how your room is setup, things like acoustic panels and bass traps can make a huge impact on how the system sounds. In most typical rooms, dampening and/or breaking up the reflected sound waves with absorbing panels or diffusers will improve the imaging and overall coherency.

    I suggest that you take a good look at your room and see if anything can be improved there first. Go around the room and clap your hands. If you hear a "slap echo", then you have a problem. If you got bad room acoustics, any subtle differences between cables won't be noticeable anyway.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by audiofan007
    I am finally looking at replacing my cheap Monster speaker cables...if in fact cables make a difference. I would spend around $500 but could go higher.

    The equipment I have is: bi-amped ESS Amt speakers, Bryston and Audio Research amps, Cal Audio Labs CD, and Levinson pre.

    Because of the makeup of my living room and location of my speakers, I need fairly long cables...about 16-18ft each.

    Your recommendations and thoughts are appreciated.

    Audiofan007
    Received Analysis Plus Oval 9 yesterday. Sounds better than Monster XP.

  4. #4
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    Now let's see, Mr. audiofan007

    You write that you are "finally looking at replacing my cheap Monster speaker cables...if in fact cables make a difference." Let's pause here......

    You describe your system as
    1. "The equipment I have is: bi-amped ESS Amt speakers, ...Bryston and Audio Research amps, ...." This suggests (at least) 4 seperate amp channels, and I believe the ESS is a 2-way? If you are biamped, what low-level crossover are you using?

    So.... why can you not do the following:

    1. Place your low-level crossover and your "Bryston and Audio Research amps, ...." BETWEEN and/or perhaps BEHIND, your speakers, and then you can connect the amps to your speakers with speaker wires (presumably) much shorter than the 16-18ft you mentioned. Now the speaker wires become far less significant than before. I/C the amps to the X-over, and arrange a remote power turn-on for the amps & cross-over. Switched extension wires and radio-controlled turn-ons are available for very reasonable cost.

    2. Next, Connect your "Levinson pre" to your low-level crossover using balanced (mike) interconnects, which can be any rediculous length you need (like 25' or 50') without concern for degredation of sound. [Unbalanced (RCA) interconnects start to cause problems above 12' length and sonically go to pot at 25'.] Visit Radio Shack for balanced line adaptors if your equipment lacks the balanced interconnects.

    Then persue the room acoustic analysis and treatments as suggested by Woochifer.

  5. #5
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Right gauge Radio Shack wire and cables will work just fine{your ears will never know} and you'll have $$ left over for some killer CD"S.

  6. #6
    AR Newbie Registered Member
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by audiofan007
    I am finally looking at replacing my cheap Monster speaker cables...if in fact cables make a difference. I would spend around $500 but could go higher.

    The equipment I have is: bi-amped ESS Amt speakers, Bryston and Audio Research amps, Cal Audio Labs CD, and Levinson pre.

    Because of the makeup of my living room and location of my speakers, I need fairly long cables...about 16-18ft each.

    Your recommendations and thoughts are appreciated.

    Audiofan007
    Audiofan007,

    Cables, in my experience, do make a system sound different ( NOTE: different not better ), due to their construction technique, materials used and overall length, which affect the electrical characteristics of the cable in question.

    Depending on the sound of your particular setup, which appart from the electronics and speakers, includes the room accoustics, you'll have to somehow find which cable is 'right' for you, a difficult task indeed.

    You cannot go by recommendation of others, or reputation and price of cables, as your particular circumstances are unique to your listening room, let alone your own listening taste in what makes a good sound.

    IMHO, if you have an audio dealer, explain the situation to him and I am sure he'll be only too happy to help you by lending you some of the demonstrator cables to listen to in the context of your own home, and then dicide what suits what.

    With the kind of gear you have ( Levinson, A.R. Bryston etc.) he (the dealer) will realise you're serious about your endeavours and will be more than happy to assist.

    As a final note, you will get much more noticeable differences in the sound of your system by moving your speakers to alter the overall sound, than with any cable replacement.

    Also, do not get 'sucked in' by prices. Do not ask the price of the cables you will experiment with, just see / hear what you like and THEN ask the price...you may suprise yourself.

    Best

    Arthur

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