Speaker cable and CD

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by jakdos, Sep 18, 2004.

  1. jakdos

    jakdos
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    Right, I'm probably going to put the cat amongst the pigeons and get shot, but I just posted this on another board :-

    I've always liked getting decent budget separates for my stereo but have never really got into buying good interconnects & speaker cables. There has always been this thing for me that a lot of people into hi-fi get dead snobby about it and basically talk ******, making out you can differentiate between this that and the other when realistically, you can't <only my opinion>.

    Anyway, I've got an Arcam Alpha 7Ramp, Cambridge Audio DAB300 & B&W DM602 S2 speakers (need to change the crappy JVC CD player since it was the wife's.) However, I only had the interconnects that came with the kit and my speaker cable IS actually bell wire.

    What I want to know is "Does it make a significant difference, and is it instantly noticeable ?" I must admit, I've put some decent interconnects on the CD and I have had to turn the bass back down to mid and it's got me thinking that there is probably something in it. Bit of luck, with some decent cables I could bypass the tone controls ?

    I'm doing the lounge out soon, and it will give me the opportunity to re-run all the cables e.t.c. so I want to be sure that it's not just bull**** before I shell some coin out. What sort of cash would you consider reasonable ?

    Now I'm on here, recommendations for a CD player up to £250 ? Looking at the mags I could go for all sorts and I don't really get chance to spend hours in the local dealers :( I am here to be educated since I've not had the chance to get back into this since I was a kid :thumbsup:

    Cheers
    Jak
     
  2. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Hi Jak,
    Hmmmm.....Cables eh? :devil:
    At the very high risk of starting another cable war (I refuse point blank to be drawn into an argument over this - these are my opinions and that's it! If anyone disagrees that's your prerogative).
    OK, My opinion on cables.
    Jak, I have two systems one I would call midrange the other hi end. I've built them up over the years and with a lot of trial and error I have managed to get (One of them at least) sounding perfect for my ears. On my high end system I use Atlas Elektra OCC copper interconnects the most transparent cable I've ever heard. Combined with Atlas Apex/Ascent speaker cable. The combination works brilliantly. They are expensive. The interconnects retail at £650 each and the Speaker cable is £50 a metre.
    Now, the interconnects I wouldn't change, I've listened to an awful lot of cables and found none including home made ones to match these. The speaker cable I regularly swap with my home made CAT5e (UTP network cable!) It alters the sound slightly but not unpleasantly, if I'm absolutely honest the only reason I use the Apex/Ascent is because I bought it and don't want to admit I've wasted a few hundred pounds on speaker cable!
    I've also listened to dearer speaker cable and find it hard to justify the extra money for a very minor positive and more often than not, negative effect on the music. Draw what conclusions you like from this. My idea was to get the best sound (To my ears) possible from this system. I think I’ve done it. Quality Interconnects played a big part in this.
    I use my second system as a second room system in a fairly small room.
    The components, as stated are what I call mid range. It's a complete exposure 3010 system (with a bit of Chord thrown!) CD+DAC64 Integrated and 2 stereo power amps, passive Tri-Amping) the speaker cable is again cat5e. At this price I know I'm not going to achieve perfection but again I want it to sound right.
    I connect my second system up with the Elektras and compare them with various other ranges and cheaper atlas cables. There is now only a very subtle difference between the cables. It doesn't show up the flaws in cables the same either. So basically it's not as fussy. A £650 cable is totally wasted here.
    At the moment I have home made solid silver interconnects on the system. They seem to be very good. Easily the match for the Elektra's on this system. Connect them to my hi end system and I see what a poor job I’ve done!
    So what's my opinion?
    I believe interconnects can make a massive difference to a system. The better your gear the bigger the difference both positive and negative. A bad choice can destroy a perfectly good system. The right choice can make a lesser system sound great.

    Speaker cable?
    Forget it use straight forward twin and earth or (Far better and more effort- CAT5e!) There are some very useful links in the cables section in this forum.

    If I had to recommend something for your system I'd say CAT5e speaker cable and Atlas Equator interconnects £39.99. I think good (Not necessarily expensive) cables allow more music and more detail through. The problem is there are so many variables, room size/layout/construction (The list goes on!). Cables are just one of them. What’s good for one is not always good for another.

    If you want percentages I suppose my main system I've spent perhaps 6% of the budget. On my second system 3%. I don't know how this relates to what companies recommend? I suspect it's a lot less. ;)

    As for the CD player look to second hand or ex dem, companies bring out new models all the time, for some reason everything they've made before then becomes vastly inferior. So there are some good bargains to be had. With all the new stuff on the market I still haven't heard anything in the price range to compare to the Rega Planet for detail retrieval and sheer musicality. New its £500, Second hand should be about £200 - £250. Connected with good cables it should last you a long time. When you want to upgrade again you'll have a decent transport that you can add a decent DAC to.
    Magazine reviews are just like this forum - opinion! Just remember your ear is unique.
     
  3. Londondecca

    Londondecca
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    The easy way to find out about cables is to ask for some loan pairs from your dealer or try Russ Andrews (he gives you 60 days to try).

    CAT5 and Twin & Earth are good cables which are cheap and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. In some systems they can work wonders but in others they dont work. This is the biggest problem with cable (indeed many other components), it is very system dependent, this is why you really should hear them in your system
     
  4. JH1

    JH1
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    Hi Jak,

    As far as cables are concerned I think that it really depends on your system as to what matches it well. If you are going to change your cd player anyway, I would think it would be best to change your player first. (I have an Arcam CD73 which I have been pleased with but will soon be looking to upgrade (with DAC) or replace it and have been told secondhand value of the CD73 is about £250). This is a reasonably new machine on the market and has excellent reviews in most Hi Fi magazines, so I could recommend looking at a second hand one of these if you can find one.

    Once you've decided on your player, I would then look at matching cables to it. I'm no expert but from experience and advice I have had, what cable works well with one set up, won't necessarily do the same in another.

    I think the best advice is, as already posted by LondonDecca, get your system components sorted, then find a dealer who will lend you some trial cables and change cables around 'til you find what you like.

    Incidentally, I have Chord cobra 2 interconnects which I have found to be pretty good all round on my system and they were about £55. I also have the original QED speaker cable which I have bi-wired my speakers with. That only cost about £3 a metre 3 years ago (which at the time was a make do purchase), but I have to say at present, I've not heard any real improvement with cables costing 3 to 4 times as much!

    Good Luck
     
  5. jakdos

    jakdos
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    Thanks guys....some very good advice.

    Just for a temporary measure, I've hooked up some 2.5mm twin & earth and the difference just using that is staggering.

    I will definately look at changing the CD first. I can't see me spending a great deal on cabling since the system will still be economy class but to be honest, I don't listen to it enough to justify. Also, living in a semi seriously limits what I would spend since I can't crank the vol up.

    My next main problem is the laminate floor - going to have to take it all up (glued type) so I can lay the new cables when I get them :eek:

    Again, cheers
    Jak
     
  6. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    I think interconnects and speaker cable do make a difference, but they need not be the most expensive products. Price has no correlation to the quality of a cable in any given system. I have used interconnects in my system ranging from freebie ones to £100 Sonic Links, and speaker cables ranging from 79p/meter to £20/m Chord cable.

    The freebie ones sounded nowhere near as bad as I expected, and even used them for a little while.

    The most expensive ones were invariably quite disappointing to my ears, sounding worse than many of the cheaper ones.

    In the end I settled for the VDH C5 "The Bay" interconnect (about £36 for 1.2 metre) and Naim NACA 4 (which I inherited, but costs about £7/meter for the NACA 5), and seem to get excellent results from those cables. Also, a DIY cable I use for my headphone amp I bought for a mere £15 and that also sounds excellent.

    The link for that particular interconnect can be found here, if you are up for a spot of DIY.

    http://www.tnt-audio.com/clinica/diyce2.html
     

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