Current Cable Thinking
Cable recommendations are always in flux, with new brands and models,
change of retailers etc.
I've therefore compiled my current 'thinking' and recommendations
below. Keep in mind my priorities are:
- The importance of 0.5 m lengths. Hardly
anyone needs 1m. If you have a normal rack, you only need 0.5 m. If
you put mono-bloc amps on the floor, you need 1.5-2.0 m. 1.0m is basically
a useless length unless for eg, you have sources, the nearest
source uses the 0.5 m length, the other source uses 1.0 m (and then
1.0 m is still too long... 0.8m is preferable) Also, the shorter the
length the better the sound. When you have a home theatre system running
alongside a hi-fi system; the number of cables increases and so does
clutter, so you have to have the shortest lengths possible or they'll
keep on crossing over each other.
- Diminishing returns
in cable investments, though are the definite differences. Expect the
better cables to be grain-free, detailed and transparent. Within each
level of grain-free-ness, detail and transparency, there are choices
of tone quality, usually 'open' or 'warm'.
- Cables aren't
too detailed or transparent (budget level), should preferably be 'open'.
If they are 'warm' they may sound muddy and confused. At the higher
level, with more detail, an 'open' cable may be too bright while a 'warm'
cable is just nice.
- On my opinions
on cables. For interconnects, the XLO type 1 is still the best I've
heard in my system and I only got it for a steal at $240. In my system,
it has beaten off $400+ interconnects that have the 'wrong' (again,
personal preference) tonal balance for my system. Nordost Blue Heaven
is second. The common perception is that the XLO has fantastic bass.
I have to agree, but thats not all there is. It has a beautifully grainfree
and expressive midrange.
- After the XLO
type 1s, you now go into $$$ territory with the Transparents etc. I
haven't had the opportunity to try these cables so I can't comment yet.
Currently, my current thinking is this:
- DIY Belden cables
89259 or 89207. (may be a bit too transparent for its own good, in which
case, look below for 2 brands which are traditionally called 'smooth')
- Buy the wire at the store and make your
own. Dealers like Kingsley (VdH) and Asia Sound (Tara) sell interconnect
cable on a reel for the cheaper models. You can thus get the ideal 0.5m.
If you buy Daiyo connectors you don't even need to solder.
- If you really like brand names, see what
Emjay has in stock. They don't have much stock and I think they're kind
of getting out of the parallel import cable business. For $200 for 1
m Blue Heavens? My kind of price :)
Budget: (Speaker Cable)
- Problem: my favourite AQ type 4 is no
longer being sold by Pertama at low, low prices. AQ is apparently now
distributed by Sound Art at Adelphi and the prices are
a bit higher. Still, AQ is a good buy.
- Still haven't
stumbled on an easy to make DIY cable. WIth all the stripping, twining,
twisting, it does take quite a lot of effort, and you must solder the
spades/banana plugs for best contact.
- without a doubt,
the Belden 14AWG at $12/m. Rewire all your power distribution strips
with it :)
Midrange and Up (interconnects & speaker cable
& power cable):
- The usual suspects
in Stereophile are well represented. See my earlier article...
- If you have the
money, the XLO purple power cable is very nice.
- Don't ask me about
super expensive cables :)
I agree, cables are a real headache. Perhaps the best thing to do
is to endure and spend the money on something recommended in Stereophile
so that It'll serve you through several upgrades. :)