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:

Budget: (interconnects)

  • 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.

Budget/Midrange: (Power Cable):

  • 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 :)

Final Thoughts:
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. :)