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  1. #1
    sip
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    Do speaker cables (cheap vs not so cheap) make a diffrence?

    I bought Monster 16 gauge standard speaker cables ($35 Canadian for 50 feet) to replace Recoton 18 gauge ($10 for 100 feet) I currently have. The salesman who sold me the Monster wires told me it is the quality not the thickness of the cable that matter. Is Monster standard speaker cables better than the cheap $10 cables? Did I waste my money on Monster cables? (Why I bought the new cables in the first place? I inquired from the salesman who sold me a new pair of speakers why I get a hiss from the new speakers. He suggested to upgrade the speaker cables to eliminated the hiss a he said it is due to some interference). Thanks.

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    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    you didn't get ripped off too bad.

    You should see what some people are willing to pay for cables!

    In your case, either cable will work just as well. The hiss is caused by the receiver, not the speaker cables. Be wary of this guy in the future. He is either ignorant or he lies like a rug.

  3. #3
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    I think big bucks for cables is BS. Having said that and reading many coments, i'm think'n it might make a very small difference for very high end stuff. I do think on the other end,having crap cables will make a negitive difference. Most middle of the road stuff,Radio shack will work.
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  4. #4
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    The gauge of the wire can be important, particularly if you have long runs of wire from the receiver or amplifier to the back speakers. What I use is this wire with these connectors on each end.

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    the answer is obvious

    although i doubt the new cables will make a difference, the only way to find out is to try them out. You probably don't need monster cables, but if your current cables are in some way defective or improperly sheilded, replacing them might make a difference. If the new cables exhibit the same problem, take them back and demand your money back!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sip
    I bought Monster 16 gauge standard speaker cables ($35 Canadian for 50 feet) to replace Recoton 18 gauge ($10 for 100 feet) I currently have. The salesman who sold me the Monster wires told me it is the quality not the thickness of the cable that matter. Is Monster standard speaker cables better than the cheap $10 cables? Did I waste my money on Monster cables? (Why I bought the new cables in the first place? I inquired from the salesman who sold me a new pair of speakers why I get a hiss from the new speakers. He suggested to upgrade the speaker cables to eliminated the hiss a he said it is due to some interference). Thanks.
    Did the new cables get rid of your hiss? I don't suppose they did. OTOH, I've found that upgrading cables does in some cases provide a worthwhile improvement in my systems overall sound. But it's hard for anyone but you to answer your questions. Try them out and see if the amount you spent is worth any improvement, should there be one. Often times, there isn't. It's system dependant. And I agree that you should get your money back if they don't improve your system, particularly the hiss. The salesman told you the Monster cable would get rid of the hiss. If they don't, demand a refund.

  7. #7
    Cylon Centurian Rycher's Avatar
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    In my systems, the upgrade from cheap cables to better (read: not esoteric) cables was in better bass and overall soundstage. Nothing major by any means, but a small improvement. I'm guessing that the reason is because the thicker cable is able to deliver more current when the source calls on the amplifier to deliver it. Does wire reduce hiss? I seriously doubt it. Does wire make a BIG difference? I doubt that too. Does it have an overall effect on the sound that an amplifier delivers to your speakers? Yes, it does. Whether it's a small effect, large effect, positive, or negative, or just plain unhearable effect will largely depend on room acoustics and equipment. But hey, that's just my opinion.
    Last edited by Rycher; 01-22-2005 at 12:16 PM.
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  8. #8
    Scooby Newbie Registered Member
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    I never thought they'd make much difference. I just bought a new set of speakers and had them hooked up using the old wire until my new Wires came in. I already liked my speakers already. I swapped out the 12AWG wires with my new 4 M. Cobalt cables Ultimates and definately heard a difference. Whether or not it was simply a matter of 4 or 5 db's louder thus making me feel they sounded better, I like them. Besides they have a 90 money back trial so I figured, What do I have to lose? Also a lifetime warrenty. The only problem I have is that they are so thick that I can't run them up my speaker stands. But they are very good looking (compared to basic speaker wire) that I don't mind seeing them.

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    I was using tributaries $3/feet cable and decided to try monster reference Z2 speaker cables for my mains and center channel to see if they would really make a difference. The shop I bought them from allows for a refund before 30 days. I still have the cables after the 30 days and feel the improvement in sound was justified. Highs got smoother with more extension, bass sounds better, and imaging improved. Was it worth the money? I think so. I went ahead and got a monster reference 200i interconnect for my CDP which improved the sound even more. I will be returning the monster interconnect to try a Kimber Hero interconnect next.

    The monster reference may be more than you may want to pay. Try the reference for a week or so and see how you like them. If you don't think the improvement in sound is justified then return them. The cables really shined for me at louder listening levels but at lower levels the improvements may not be worth the money.

  10. #10
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sip
    I bought Monster 16 gauge standard speaker cables ($35 Canadian for 50 feet) to replace Recoton 18 gauge ($10 for 100 feet) I currently have. The salesman who sold me the Monster wires told me it is the quality not the thickness of the cable that matter. Is Monster standard speaker cables better than the cheap $10 cables? Did I waste my money on Monster cables? (Why I bought the new cables in the first place? I inquired from the salesman who sold me a new pair of speakers why I get a hiss from the new speakers. He suggested to upgrade the speaker cables to eliminated the hiss a he said it is due to some interference). Thanks.
    It has been my experience that higher priced cables only matter with higher priced audio systems. They are the icing to a $20k cake.

    For most systems, however, they offer little benefit. The best bang for your buck is simply 12 gauge zip cord available most anywhere. The notion that better speaker wires tame hiss is incorrect.

    rw

  11. #11
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Can't imagine these Monster's being a whole lot better than what you had, if at all, however...I have a slightly different take on this thread.
    My experience with hearing improvements when changing cables can be directly attrributed to the connectors rather than the wiring itself. Often times the way the cables are terminated at the connector end varies (in quality, durability) and the type of connectors themselves may be different (bigger, tighter, better material)...In my case, it's made the difference between a subwoofer engaging itself when signals are sent at really low volumes, or requiring more gain...
    I've also wiggled a few of the standard Radio Shack Gold cables right behind the connections, sometimes that introduces a bit of static, sometimes not...I think this could be a quality control thing...I still buy them because they sound good enough to me, but if I can find "better" AR or Monster cables on clearance I usually buy those instead.
    I must admit though, when the cheap cables are working, I can't say I definitely hear any improvments.

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    Excellent article regarding speaker cables and interconnects.

    http://www.stereotimes.com/cables042501.shtm
    Last edited by WAF!; 01-23-2005 at 11:32 AM.

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    I don't get it.

    Quote Originally Posted by WAF!
    Excellent article regarding speaker cables and interconnects.

    http://www.stereotimes.com/cables042501.shtm
    Unless I'm missing something, the writer of the article is describing his own subjective and biased opinions about the effects of different speaker cables/wires. I mean, how does this article provide any more insight on whether expensive cables are objectively--as in double-blind test-- better than 12-guage wires?

    I guess, I'm not saying anything new, but every time an objective test has been done, the listener was not able to distinguish between the crap wires and the good cables.

  14. #14
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    I think you've just snatched the pebble out of my hand, grasshopper.*

    Quote Originally Posted by NoMSG
    I guess, I'm not saying anything new, but every time an objective test has been done, the listener was not able to distinguish between the crap wires and the good cables.
    The common excuses given vary from :

    1) too much pressure to listen carefully
    2) unfamiliar with the music
    3) unfamiliar with the room
    4) unfamiliar with the equipment
    5) not enough time to get used to the sound

    Well, you get the idea. Any rationalization at all to get away from the simple fact that their ears alone were unable to discern any difference.

    *For the young, that's a famous quote from the original Kung Fu TV series with David Carridine of the early 70's

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sip
    I bought Monster 16 gauge standard speaker cables ($35 Canadian for 50 feet) to replace Recoton 18 gauge ($10 for 100 feet) I currently have. The salesman who sold me the Monster wires told me it is the quality not the thickness of the cable that matter. Is Monster standard speaker cables better than the cheap $10 cables? Did I waste my money on Monster cables? (Why I bought the new cables in the first place? I inquired from the salesman who sold me a new pair of speakers why I get a hiss from the new speakers. He suggested to upgrade the speaker cables to eliminated the hiss a he said it is due to some interference). Thanks.
    Like the others, I'm curious to know if the Monster wire helped with the hiss issue. Again, like the others, I believe it sounds more like amplifier noise than anything else. However I'll pass on some things from my own experience:

    I have known speakers to pick up noise from electrical interference due to the speaker wires being entangled with a bunch of other non-shielded interconnects and power cords around the back of the receiver. This taught me many years ago that it's better to toss the cheap interconnects that come packed with most components for cabling with good shielding and to always be tidy with my wiring.

    The "thickness of the cable" does make a difference up to a certain point. Wire that's too thin for the length it's being run can have too much resistance in it, reducing sound quality. On the other hand, wire can never cause problems because it is too thick, though spending more for something thicker may not yield any noticeable improvement. For example: if you're running typical 8 ohm speakers a distance of 50 feet or less from an average receiver, 16 gauge should be just fine. But it's unlikely it would sound any better than 18 gauge over a run of 10-15 feet.

    Quality does make a difference. Some cheap speaker wire actually corrodes over time (in some cases a short time). I currently have a house someone prewired for surround sound with cheap 14 gauge wire. When I moved in, I removed the wall plates and discovered the wire had turned green from corrosion. For this reason, I won't buy speaker wire from places like Home Depot or Wal-Mart. However, I've used Radio Shack's speaker wire for years without any problems.

    As with the quality of the wire, the quality of the wire connectors makes a difference for the reason stated above and because cheap connectors may not make a good connection with the wire (as Kexodusc stated). Thus if you don't have good connectors for the wire, it's better to just connect the bare wire directly to the speakers and receiver.

  16. #16
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    Talking

    Speaker cables and interconnects do make a substantial difference in the quality of your sound system if you keep in mind that your system will only be as good as its weakest link. Recently, I had an opportunity to purchase $600 speaker cables for $125. You betcha I bought a few pairs at various lengths. The difference in sound was immediately discernable. Better than anything I've ever used before. I bet the guy who paid $600 feels a bit sheepish though....

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    Bty your logic, that result suggests that your cables were the weakest link in your system. Do you realize how fantastically unlikely that is?

    So, would you feel sheepish to find that your $125 cables sound no different than
    $12.50 worth of cable from Home Depot, if you were to compare them without knowing in advance which was which?

    It is not at all unusual to discern an 'immediate difference in quality' when a component is swapped out. In fact, it's not unusual to have that perception even when the component swapped in is exactly the same one (but the listener doesn't know it) What does that tell you about human percepetion?

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    Nevermind my post "Detectable Differences In Monster"!

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    Quote Originally Posted by krabapple
    Bty your logic, that result suggests that your cables were the weakest link in your system. Do you realize how fantastically unlikely that is?

    So, would you feel sheepish to find that your $125 cables sound no different than
    $12.50 worth of cable from Home Depot, if you were to compare them without knowing in advance which was which?

    It is not at all unusual to discern an 'immediate difference in quality' when a component is swapped out. In fact, it's not unusual to have that perception even when the component swapped in is exactly the same one (but the listener doesn't know it) What does that tell you about human percepetion?
    While the cables are likely not the weakest link in any system, they're infinitely less expensive to replace than speakers. I bought the best speakers and ancillary components I could afford and spent a commensurate amount on cables. Until I did so, they were indeed the weakest link in the system I was able to afford.

    Yes, I'd feel sheepish if my cables sounded no different than $12.50 worth of HD cable - sheepish and incredulous! It isn't a believable scenario, however. I can't speak for those that may have been fooled during a blind test when components weren't swapped out but as I've said before, I trust my senses. That said, I am about to embark on some blind testing. The methodology will be slightly unorthodox and it certainly won't prove anything to anyone as despite the outcome, the two factions will still cling to their beliefs... meaning that a positive outcome won't be believed by anyone, anyway. But it should be interesting to me.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by krabapple
    Bty your logic, that result suggests that your cables were the weakest link in your system. Do you realize how fantastically unlikely that is?

    So, would you feel sheepish to find that your $125 cables sound no different than
    $12.50 worth of cable from Home Depot, if you were to compare them without knowing in advance which was which?

    It is not at all unusual to discern an 'immediate difference in quality' when a component is swapped out. In fact, it's not unusual to have that perception even when the component swapped in is exactly the same one (but the listener doesn't know it) What does that tell you about human percepetion?
    Anytime I see a thread like this, both camps (those who buy expensive cables and those who are more frugal) take a hard stand. Having said that, I have both expensive and regular home depot/zip cord type cables. Cables do make a difference.

    The most convenient and objective way to determine the change or lack of it is by putting your ears close to your speakers (6 inches or closer). Most will hear noise/hiss. Good cables (speaker and interconnects) will reduce or "eliminate" this background noise. That has been my target to keep my ears objective. Any swapping that you put into your system will have an effect on it. So, eliminate the subjective musical interpretation of the changes by keeping it simple....did the cables reduce or eliminate the background noise? If it did, then the cables made a difference. Then and only then should you do critical listening. The blacker passages should be more dramatic and when you have silence in your music it should be more pronounced (i.e. you hear nothing at all).

    Offcourse all else being equal bad AC power, excess rfi or emi will have a dramatic effect on what noise is picked up by your system. Case in point, when I pause my CD player to talk using my cell phone, I pick up background noise that is clearly discernable. Therefore, having good shielded cables, good power conditioner and maybe even an UPS will help in this regard. My buddy let me borrow one of his inexpensive line conditioner and it helped a little.

    Finally, this is a listing of the cables that I have used for comparison: Analysis Plus, MIT, Kimber, home made silvers and finally different Monsters (and waiting to audition, TMC interconnects and cables).

  21. #21
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alimaga
    The most convenient and objective way to determine the change or lack of it is by putting your ears close to your speakers (6 inches or closer). Most will hear noise/hiss. Good cables (speaker and interconnects) will reduce or "eliminate" this background noise.
    Actually, this is not a good sign. It's a sign that the cables unnaturally attenuate the high end. The cables have no way of discerning whetehr they are attenuating noise or part of the musical signal. Highs is highs.

  22. #22
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    Actually, this is not a good sign. It's a sign that the cables unnaturally attenuate the high end. The cables have no way of discerning whetehr they are attenuating noise or part of the musical signal. Highs is highs.
    Except of course when the "highs" are RF inflicted garbage. Some cables do know when they are attenuating noise.

    rw

  23. #23
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Except of course when the "highs" are RF inflicted garbage. Some cables do know when they are attenuating noise.

    rw
    Only if they are shielded. Most intercoonnects are and and not too many speaker cables do that.

  24. #24
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    Only if they are shielded.
    I find that to be an important proviso. All of my cables are shielded..

    rw

  25. #25
    Forum Regular Monstrous Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    I find that to be an important proviso. All of my cables are shielded..

    rw
    In this post, http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/cab...es/104167.html, Jon Risch says: "However, if you do not have an overt or known sub-threshold RFI problem, then I would strongly recommend that you not be concerned about shielding your speaker cables, it is only done as a neccessary evil."

    Do you have shielded speaker wires? If so, why?

    At this link, http://www.trinitysoundcompany.com/wire-up.html, they say "In fact, the higher reactance of shielded speaker cables can induce deleterious parasitc oscillation."
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