Speaker Cables I really Like for $20. I Compare them to my $1000 cables.
Buy Steve Huff
Hey all! It’s been a few weeks since my last review. That is because nothing has come across my hands that I felt inspired to write about, until today! This post will be short, to the point and one that talks about something crazy affordable that I can HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a great set of speaker cables. Cables that do not break the bank.
I have owned cables in my system (and for the sake of simplicity I will speak only of speaker cables here) that have cost me $5,000 at one time. Were they nice? Oh yea. Did they make an improvement? Oh yes. Was it worth the cost? Well…no.
We all are aware of diminishing returns in audio, and cables are an area where you see these demising returns happen rather quickly. It’s why I settled on Nordost Blue Heaven LS for my full time reference cables at $1000 for a 9 foot pair (Updated 2022 to Cardas Clear Reflection as they Synergize better with my Fleetwood DeVille speakers).
Sure, I have had the Nordost Valhalla cables and loved them, they were better but they were not so much better that they warranted the thousands of extra dollars. I guess it depends on how much money you have to spend, and if you like eeking out that last bit of performance from your system.
These days I enjoy a happy medium and immensely enjoy my reference cables, which are considered crazy expensive by some who choose a two channel stereo. In the grand scheme of things, in the audiophile world, $1k for cables is considered low end for many. I know a guy who has $45,000 invested in his cables alone. Does his system sound good? Yes but I sometimes feel that it is too transparent and almost too much of a good thing.
When I removed my Nordost Blue Heaven, which come in at that $1k price point I noticed two things, neither of which made the music less enjoyable.
For starters I lost some transparency and delicacy. But not much of it. Rather the sound was beefier, thicker and shifted to have a teeny bit more bass. So less air and delicacy but better for rocking out. I also noticed the sound was slightly less clean, but again, not everyone will even notice these things. Instead of dead black silence in between notes and sounds I didn’t get that all out blackness. It was oh so slight.
My Nordost Blue Heaven cables. Love them but my system warrants better cables and even then, I could live with the cheap cables I am speaking about here today.
UPDATE 2022: When compared to my $3k Cardas Cables, no thee are not as good but the gap is much smaller than one may think. These affordable copper cables are well made, 14 gauge, and have soldered banana connectors. When listening to these extremely affordable, flexible and quality cables I knew they were something special for the extreme low cost. Even in my reference system where I use Nagra electronics and Fleetwood DeVille speakers that come in at $15k these cables were hanging with the big boys. They offer up a nice soundstage, and a nice beefy midrange with some sparkle.
While my Cardas offer up more transparency, an even wider soundstage along with some 3 dimensional holographic imaging, these also provide a healthy portion of fantastic imaging. They are not as refined as the $3k cables but it’s not a huge night and day here. I also tried more expensive cables up to $100 and they did not do nearly as well as these did within my system.
Remember, no matter what cable you buy it will slightly change the character of the sound. The more revealing your system, the more difference you will hear. There is no such thing as a 100% neutral cable. All cables add to the sound.
With that said, these cheap cables are about all most will need. It is only when you get to $5k and up speakers or $5k and up amps and higher end DAC’s that you will start to notice these differences. Sure, cables can make differences in all systems but sometimes the differences may not be to your liking. I have had that happen as well! One time I bought $2700 cables and thought they sounded worse than my $900 cables at the time. I returned them.
I have a small system in my living room now (in addition to my reference system in my dedicated room), and it is composed of a PS Audio Sprout 100, which is a KILLER bang for the buck piece that has a 100 WPC class D amp, a decent DAC and has the ability to stream right to it from your phone or use the inputs I the back. It is even set up for records, as it has a phono stage built in. At $699, this integrated is killer. Add the cables here and you are in business. This is the kind of system these cables rock with, even if you spend less.
If you do not believe in cables, do not want to go down the rabbit hole and lose money, or just want a great all around speakers cable that delivers all the good you need, I highly recommend these. I have owned them since September of 2019 and feel they are a no brainer buy.