Expensive Cables. Are they worth the Money?

Back in March this year I auditioned TQ Black Diamond Speaker Cables, they turned out to be extremely impressive.

To cut a long story short I ended up, after a lengthy home audition, purchasing a Brand new set of the top of the range Silver Diamond Speaker Cables.

Although they sounded good from the start, I have experienced a few lows from time to time over the weeks and months but gradually they have just got better and better. 

It’s been approximately 6 months now and ‘Wow’.....they are altogether on an another level, truly remarkable.....

So if anyone is contemplating the possibility of treating oneself to an Xmas gift and was wondering if these High End Cables are truly worth the significant outlay, rest assured in this case, with TQ SD they most certainly are. 

The exceptional reviews are no exaggeration. (eg hi fi pig )

I personally think in our enthusiasm to upgrade the boxes it’s the Cables we often compromise on.

Cables can provide a clear conduit to maximise the performance from whatever black boxes we have.

So has anyone made plans to splash out and upgrade the cables over the festive season?

Original Post
Darke Bear posted:

No - but already done it with full SL loom and agree cables are often worth more than a box upgrade, if you get the right cables.

DB.

I notice from your profile, you have an absolutely superb system, so congrats on that.

You certainly would not be doing your system justice without the full loom, as you rightly say, it’s all about getting the right cables.

When I got SL cables I certainly thought that the performance improvement equated to some black-box upgrades.  On that basis I didn't think the cost was disproportionate.  Looked at in isolation I can understand why some people baulk as the price, but it's always worth remembering that it is the performance of the "system" that matters. The price and performance of any one component is much, much less important.  

MDS posted:

When I got SL cables I certainly thought that the performance improvement equated to some black-box upgrades.  On that basis I didn't think the cost was disproportionate.  Looked at in isolation I can understand why some people baulk as the price, but it's always worth remembering that it is the performance of the "system" that matters. The price and performance of any one component is much, much less important.  

Very much agree. 

electrical engineers on audio forums tend to say the same thing: the physical properties of cables are well-understood and unless your system requires something specific (like some Naim amps) everything within reason should sound the same.

my experience wholly aligns with this view. but hey -- i'm an audio addict too and i just bought some Vertere speaker cables. we'll see if the hundredth time is the charm.

wenger2015 posted:

Black box upgrades cost considerable sums, and it’s generally accepted that the upgrade, whatever it is will be worth the outlay.

I wonder why it is with cables, many take the opposite view?

I think there is more uncertainty with cable changes than black boxes.  There have been quite a few reports from folks being mightily impressed with the changed presentation from new cables; that impression changing after a period of them settling in/ becoming accustomed to them.  Not always for the better.  I suspect also that speaker cables can have a significant impact on sound which is rather dependent upon the speakers themselves - what works on one system doesn't always work so well with different speakers - generally the biggest variable on a naim based system.  Should you be unfortunate enough to make the wrong call on cable selection, they can be quite brutal in terms of loss of value should you wish to sell on.

None of the above has stopped me dipping my toes from time to time, but IMO cables are a bit less predictable than the impact of a black box change.  Not the easiest to arrange home comparison tests eg naim super lumina; chord sarum/ music; tq black/ silver diamond; etc.

Peter

Wenger, what a provocative question. You know full well that talk of posh cables on here just ends in a massive bun fight! Is there nothing on the telly or something? 

In answer to your question, yes, but in the right system that is transparent enough to make the most of transparent cables.

Dives for cover.

Just buy active ATC’s and use basic cheap mic cable used in recording studios, between them and the preamp.

No nonsense with expensive cables and use the saving to buy more music and actually listen.

It is interesting that Naim never used to sing the praises and virtues of esoteric cables and everyone was more than happy with A5 or whatever.

Beware of marketing ploys .... that is why companies exist. I think Naim simply recognised that people were happy to pay a fortune for snake oil and credit to them, produced their own .... why not, sound business sense!

At the end of the day, spending a fortune on sound reproduction kit, shouldn’t require more outlay on riddiculously priced cables.

It should sound fantastic without such extortionate tweaks to make it perform.

It all reminds me of the children’s proverb about the “Emporers Clothes” ........

 

 

 

Indeed

Computer designed circuit boards, integrated circuits, discrete regulators, toroidal transformers and all sorts of other electronic wizardry will make a huge difference to sound quality - based on the components and how they are put together.

But, let’s be totally logical .... a length of copper wire (aka speaker cable) is a length of wire ..... see sense and save your cash!

 

Yes very few cables are worth the money, many are a rip-off.

It's important to listen with an open mind - but I am not myself in an open mind to listen to a Chord Music cable at 3,800 GBP/meter.

The entry level Vertere interconnects are reasonably priced, and are a revelation to my ears.

I don't like the stupid prices of SL cables either but I do like their abilities. 

Mr Frog posted:

Just buy active ATC’s and use basic cheap mic cable used in recording studios, between them and the preamp.

 

............

At the end of the day, spending a fortune on sound reproduction kit, shouldn’t require more outlay on riddiculously priced cables.

It should sound fantastic without such extortionate tweaks to make it perform.

 

 

 

Expensive kit doesn't necessarily require ridiculously priced cables to sound good, which may sound different but not necessarily better than good quality but cheaper professional cable (e.g. Mogami).

But differences in sound definitely can be heard. I tested TQ Black 2.5m speaker cable over a number of weeks comparing to my tried and trusted VdH Magnum (available pretty cheap on the bay). In this comparison the TQ black acts as a high-pass filter, attenuating the bottom two octaves.

This may be OK for people running smaller speakers which don't pass much energy below 60hz, but to me is not acceptable for a full range system. It may also be why people perceive 'more detail' with these cables since this attenuation may help to alleviate in-room bass issues or just highlight mids/treble relative to the bass. I'm sure the TQ behave differently in different systems, but also bet that this result isn't unique to my system.

I agree moving towards active speakers is a great option to avoid all the problems which come with passive crossovers as well as cable audiophilia nervosa, but Yamaha/Mackie active studio monitors probably represent far better value than ATC actives, if you don't mind a utilitarian look.

Mr Frog posted:

Just buy active ATC’s and use basic cheap mic cable used in recording studios, between them and the preamp.

No nonsense with expensive cables and use the saving to buy more music and actually listen.

It is interesting that Naim never used to sing the praises and virtues of esoteric cables and everyone was more than happy with A5 or whatever.

Beware of marketing ploys .... that is why companies exist. I think Naim simply recognised that people were happy to pay a fortune for snake oil and credit to them, produced their own .... why not, sound business sense!

At the end of the day, spending a fortune on sound reproduction kit, shouldn’t require more outlay on riddiculously priced cables.

It should sound fantastic without such extortionate tweaks to make it perform.

It all reminds me of the children’s proverb about the “Emporers Clothes” ........

I can only assume from this rather cynical post that you have never made a careful comparison between SL cables and NACA5. To say that they are 'snake oil' is to claim that they offer no improvement, which is simply not true, and the difference is very obvious indeed to anyone who takes the time to listen. If you make a subjective, informed judgement that the improvement isn't worth the money, that's fair enough, but you might make the same judgement about the difference between, say, a NAP 200 and a 250, or between bell wire and NACA5, which at £32 a metre, many people would already say was astonishingly expensive.

analogmusic posted:

Yes very few cables are worth the money, many are a rip-off.

It's important to listen with an open mind - but I am not myself in an open mind to listen to a Chord Music cable at 3,800 GBP/meter.

The entry level Vertere interconnects are reasonably priced, and are a revelation to my ears.

I don't like the stupid prices of SL cables either but I do like their abilities. 

Are the prices really ‘stupid’? Is £6,500 for a 555PS, which is just a metal box with a big transformer and a few capacitors any less ‘stupid’. Does it really matter how much things cost, so long as the purchaser thinks they provide a worthwhile improvement? It is the dismissal of things without hearing them for oneself that is ‘stupid’. 

I moved house recently and had to purchase two 9 metre runs of NacA5 as a result of my new room and speaker positioning. That was expensive enough for me. I didn't bother comparing any other cables as I had always used NacA5 and been happy with it. My only gripe was the price had increased nearly 4 fold compared to the last time I purchased some admittedly over 20 years ago!!

Mr Frog posted:

Indeed

Computer designed circuit boards, integrated circuits, discrete regulators, toroidal transformers and all sorts of other electronic wizardry will make a huge difference to sound quality - based on the components and how they are put together.

But, let’s be totally logical .... a length of copper wire (aka speaker cable) is a length of wire ..... see sense and save your cash!

 

And what wires do you use Mr Frog?

I agree with many of the comments. Boxes, cables, hundreds, thousands...it’s entirely personal choice. It’s true the standard wires do the job, just as a Supernait does the same job as a Statement, but I think we’d all agree, on a different level. 

nigelb posted:

In answer to your question, yes, but in the right system that is transparent enough to make the most of transparent cables.

Interesting - I don't doubt that cables can make a difference. For me. there is so much marketing puff in the cable game that it's not very clear (standard LCR parameters aside) why Naim Superlumina (for example) would be more 'transparent' sounding than basic copper speaker cable. 

Hungryhalibut posted:
analogmusic posted:

Yes very few cables are worth the money, many are a rip-off.

It's important to listen with an open mind - but I am not myself in an open mind to listen to a Chord Music cable at 3,800 GBP/meter.

The entry level Vertere interconnects are reasonably priced, and are a revelation to my ears.

I don't like the stupid prices of SL cables either but I do like their abilities. 

Are the prices really ‘stupid’? Is £6,500 for a 555PS, which is just a metal box with a big transformer and a few capacitors any less ‘stupid’. Does it really matter how much things cost, so long as the purchaser thinks they provide a worthwhile improvement? It is the dismissal of things without hearing them for oneself that is ‘stupid’. 

 I've heard all the SL cables extensively.

Why did you assume otherwise? Bit puzzled, really, Nigel to be honest.... ???

james n posted:
nigelb posted:

In answer to your question, yes, but in the right system that is transparent enough to make the most of transparent cables.

Interesting - I don't doubt that cables can make a difference. For me. there is so much marketing puff in the cable game that it's not very clear (standard LCR parameters aside) why Naim Superlumina (for example) would be more 'transparent' sounding than basic copper speaker cable. 

it's a completely different cable construction/configruation, different connectors.

The NACA is still very good, but the SL sounds much better.

 

 

analogmusic posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:
analogmusic posted:

Yes very few cables are worth the money, many are a rip-off.

It's important to listen with an open mind - but I am not myself in an open mind to listen to a Chord Music cable at 3,800 GBP/meter.

The entry level Vertere interconnects are reasonably priced, and are a revelation to my ears.

I don't like the stupid prices of SL cables either but I do like their abilities. 

Are the prices really ‘stupid’? Is £6,500 for a 555PS, which is just a metal box with a big transformer and a few capacitors any less ‘stupid’. Does it really matter how much things cost, so long as the purchaser thinks they provide a worthwhile improvement? It is the dismissal of things without hearing them for oneself that is ‘stupid’. 

 I've heard all the SL cables extensively.

Why did you assume otherwise? Bit puzzled, really, Nigel to be honest.... ???

I was mixing two posts together: your assertion that the prices of SL are ‘stupid’, and posts dismissing things out of hand. I don’t think the prices are ‘stupid’ personally. They are certainly high, but people don’t have to buy them. I don’t doubt that you have tried them, and it’s fine to decide that the price is prohibitive. It’s another matter altogether to dismiss things as ‘snake oil’. 

Finkfan posted:

I agree with many of the comments. Boxes, cables, hundreds, thousands...it’s entirely personal choice. It’s true the standard wires do the job, just as a Supernait does the same job as a Statement, but I think we’d all agree, on a different level. 

Excellent analogy.

The xpsdr does the job when paired with the 272, and no doubt very well but how about the snake oil of a 555ps???

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