View Full Version : The speaker wire myth by: TAS

06-09-2004, 11:56 AM
I have long thought the amount of money spent on interconnects and speaker wire was insane. Some of the interconnects and speaker wire people are using on this forum, cost more then the players, speakers themselves.

I do agree that they make subtle differences I've long thought it was INSANE to spend a huge amont on cables, and would be better spent on a source player or pre-amp.

I use Cardas interconnects and AR master series speaker wire but I have to tell you, I'd be lying if I said I could hear a difference right away if somebody changed the wiring without my prior knowledge.

Which brings me to last month's The Absolute Sound article by Paul Seydor (TAS issue #147) where they did part-two of a speaker wire shoutout. In the shoutout two writers from TAS used Home Depot extension cord ($30) against several other wires costing hundreds. These included, MIT, AudioQuest, Kimber Kable, Nordost, Monster. The results were staggering. Both writers agreed they'd be hardpressed to tell a difference between the Home Depot extension cord and the other luxuary cables. The impact this has had on TAS subscribers and readers alike has been huge. Alot of readers are now lookin for Home Depot extention cords in order to do their own tests. One reader wrote in to suggest his $30 Home depot wire sounded better then his previous $600 AQ Hyperlitz wire, and was left scratching his head.

I don't dispute that speaker wires and cables can make a difference. The junk in the box is just that. But a decent cable doesn't always have to cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And for a first timer, i'd always recommend hardware over cables. Just some food for thought.

06-09-2004, 12:04 PM
Yo - good points. I just bought new RTi6s and an Onkyo 701, and started the cable-waltz. Sigh. Put on Monster XP - which is only 16-gauge in a nice, shiny cover. Speakers sounded "choked."
After reading the TAS article, I went over to HD - none of the wire in stock. Went to Lowe's and got some of their 12-gauge plain-Jane wire. Put on gold AR bananas and hooked up the Polks. Amazing! Sound - especially mid-and-lows opened up. My wife said it made a MAJOR difference - and she has rather amazing hearing.
do cables make a difference? Yes - sometimes. But with what I'm hearing now, I doubt very much if $300-plus cables would improve the sound. But - y'all probably have differing opinions! That's what "audiophile" is all about! GRIN
BTW - a recording engineer-friend swears by his gold AR speaker connections - says they're just as good as Monster QuickLocks - for half the price. AND, if you can't find the ARs - remember that they make the same connects for Radio Shack! Same-oh exactly. And cheaper. Larry R.

06-09-2004, 12:13 PM
Audiophile recommends Radio Shack 18 Awg.

depending on your line length you can double them up(or even quad them) and still be at 20 bucks a pair at .39 a foot.

Thats food for thought;)


06-09-2004, 12:22 PM
Here we go again. ;)

It's all about synergy and nobody should disagree that hardware should come first. It's ridiculous to have exotic TOTL cables with POS components. If anything it could most definitely make things worse by revealing what's really going on.

I take anything I read with a grain of salt for the most part because everyone has their opinions that may or may not be the same as mine. What's subtle to you may not be subtle me. It's all subjective.

06-09-2004, 12:38 PM
Hey clarkson wish I had read you last couple lines about 2 hrs ago in the moves and music thread....you said eaxctly what I was thinking but couldn't get it out that way !!!

I think it's all relative ..if you own a ford focus...you don't go out and buy the tires you put on a porche...well you can but what diff will it make.....and vice verca....you don't put a kia engine in your bently......

06-09-2004, 12:49 PM
It's all about the point of diminishing returns--and my opinion (and personal guideline) is that $75 is all I will spend on an interconnect, $250/pr on a set of speaker cables. I FULLY agree that money is better spent on good source equipment first. If your running a $350 CD Player on $500 interconnects, you oughta be shot for "audio ignorance." To my way of thinking, a high-end CD-Player better sound good running thru metal bread wrappers daisy-chained together, given the cost involved.

Given all this, I will admit that stepping up from entry level cables made an audible difference to me. But will I spend big bucks on exotic horse ****? Nope.

06-09-2004, 12:59 PM
All wires (speaker and ICs) sound different on any given system. I bought some fancy silver plated-teflon wrapped-star quad configured-10 awg wire that is just too dang harsh sound on most of my speakers.

HD wire: I've got one side burning in right now. So far it is pretty impressive, but with only doing one side at a time it is hard to get the overall picture.

I've built a couple of DIY interconnects with varying results. To me, a twisted pair of solid copper (Cat5e) with decent interconnects sounds far better than any $50/m cable I've heard on my system. They are cheap to build and will often not be the limiting factor on a rig. I have the research and materials to build "better", but don't feel the need to right now.

06-09-2004, 01:23 PM
I'm guessing 14 to 16 solid core wire like you wire a house with would come very close in sound to the expensive stuff.

06-09-2004, 01:39 PM
14 stranded in this case. It's twisted and molded together with an extra ground that gets snipped off. Some people believe that the twisted strands is what does it, while the floating ground adds the magic. I can't say, but the copper seems to be of decent quality.

06-09-2004, 01:39 PM
this hd wire your are talking about is just a normal cheap orange extension cord that you hack apart and put bannana plugs on? Would this work well with a pair of lsi 7's or should I stick to my 16 awg monster cable wire? Looks like I might have to make a trip to rat shack or some other store and pick up some bannana plugs ( and possibly hd ).

06-09-2004, 01:45 PM
HD indoor/outdoor extention cord. Orange with a black stripe. Other cords may give similar results (to which I am not yet claiming), but this is what people are using.

06-09-2004, 02:57 PM
In answer to SOME questions: yes, The Absolute Sound mag says go to the wire spool bulk section of HD and get whatever lengths you need of 14 (orange/black) or better yet, 12-AWG (yellow/black I think). Then just cut to length and add connectors of your choice. I prefer AR gold compression bananas - cheaper than the Monster QuickLocks. Radio Shack has same under their own name. Cheaper yet.
Right now I'm running 12-gauge wire from Lowe's to my RTi6s, and the sound is much fuller than the Monster 16-gauge stuff I replaced. I've never tried the really high-cost cables, nor do I have any money/intention of doing so unless I have multi-thousand-dollar gear to go with them! If I get Carver/Krell, etc., then the Lowe's might get dumped! GRIN

06-09-2004, 03:38 PM
It would be foolish to state that no one ins influenced by the material they read... I digress, make your own choices by first hand experience.

If you can hear the differences in wire, than experiment around to see what best suits your tastes and budget.

If not, consider yourself blessed and enjoy the Lowes/HD wire!

06-09-2004, 03:45 PM
I have a woodworking shop on my farm that is about 120 ft. from the house. I kept going thru boom boxes because of the dust, so I used 10 guage solid copper Romex to run speaker wires from the house to the shop. Use an old set of Advent speakers in the shop that I just keep blowing the dust out of. The 10 guage Romex seems to work great, soldered some 10 guage stranded to the ends to hook up to my receiver in the house and the speakers in the garage. I know several home builders who use 10 or 12 guage Romex for long speaker runs. My only worry would be someone mistaking it for actual 110 volt electrical service.

06-09-2004, 03:48 PM
Originally posted by dkg999
My only worry would be someone mistaking it for actual 110 volt electrical service.

I wonder how well your average receiver would power a lamp!!! :p


danger boy
06-09-2004, 04:29 PM
i haven't tried the HD extenstion cord for speaker wire yet.. and prob won't either.

I look at it this way. Any IC or speaker wire that is better than what came with the component is a step up IMHO. so how far up the ladder you want to go really depends on what sound you are looking for.

If spending $8 on HD wire makes you happy and sounds good. more power to ya.

If your willing to be openminded and want to expirement with more "exotic" IC's and wires.. go for it.

Whatever sounds good to ya.

I"m sure the HD wire isn't "right" for everyone's system here., and neither is the expensive stuff.

I do lots of reading on the net as to what others are using. and take it with a grain of salt. I try and set my limit at $100 per pair of wires/IC's. For $100 that may be way to high for some.. and way to low for other people. BUt that's what I feel gets me a good deal... and good high quality cables.

Not all my IC's are that expensive. I've mixed and matched and tweaked to find that right sound that I could live with.

I do have to agree with what someone said earlier. Why use a $500 IC on a $350 CDP? Just doesn't add up to me.

OK enough rambling form me.. i got work to do.. :(

06-09-2004, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by michael_w
this hd wire your are talking about is just a normal cheap orange extension cord that you hack apart and put bannana plugs on? Would this work well with a pair of lsi 7's or should I stick to my 16 awg monster cable wire? Looks like I might have to make a trip to rat shack or some other store and pick up some bannana plugs ( and possibly hd ).

No wonder I can't find an extension cord for my hedge trimmer!!

You don't have to buy an extension cord and rip it apart. HD sells specific 12awg speaker wire from spools for .36 a foot.


06-09-2004, 07:16 PM
OK well thanks for the info on wire... I'm going to make a trip to hd eventually and pick up some 12 awg wire for my soon to be lsi7's (they are on the way here in a day or two :D ). Haven't decided on the plugs yet but I'll keep searching to see whats out there.

06-09-2004, 07:53 PM
Wire........my god if it doesn't rest in experience.

With that being said,My opnion about wire is very strong I and full believe what I feel and hear.Over the years I have tried so many different brands.As noted above,it's not about the name on the wire,it's about if THAT wire works in the system it's installed in.The level of gear you own deserves a certain level of wire inorder to hear what the system can fully do.This Importance is totally up to the end user/owner.I feel that no one can tell that person where they should be.We all have our own opnions....Professional or hobbiest or both.

The desire to get the very best sound quality out of ones system will determine where the weakest link is.Alot of the time it's the wire that is the weakest link.I have seen systems with overkill as well.Owning wire that far exceeds the gear.but again that subjective as there are no rules.There are opnionated guidelines which I have learned and formed my own opnion.

I have read the Article and own the mag.They felt that the Kimber 8tc was the over all winner in the survey being the best all around wire.But I would run out and but 8tc.it might not sound right in your system.

I assume some of you are thinking"how the hell do I figure out what level of wire and brand should I use in my system?"In my opnion you figure this our by trail and error like I did,you can ask for tons of advice from others,like I did,talking to dealers in your area,like I did,talking to audiophiles that have been doing this since the dawn of time,Like I did,last but not least in any way call or email the wire companies,talk bout the system you own and find out what level of cabel they think your system needs.

It's a shame what some wire companies charge for there wire.I hate what everything costs nowadays.Hell it's hard to pay for the gas in you vechicle.Damn it's high.Wire is no different.

My last words to anyone who cares is this,wire will make a difference in any system,finding the correct wire is the challenge.


06-09-2004, 08:43 PM
Well, after all these informed postings, and in thinking about wire and connectors until I'm blue in the face - I have only one question to ask:
"Wire we here?" Courage! Larry R

06-09-2004, 10:40 PM
I have 12 awg HD, and 16 AWG HD, and 15 awg IXOS

IXOS sounds the best, only by a lil bit - and I cant hear a difference between 12 and 16 awg

Early B.
06-09-2004, 10:51 PM
I've found that the quality of the connection and the connectors are more important than the wire.

06-10-2004, 12:38 AM
Also, keep your filthy paws off the copper and interconnects!

06-10-2004, 01:30 AM
I agree with many of you about system synergy. You have to use wires that work well with your system. All my IC's are in the same price range but each have their own unique sound. The Monster is not as clear but very powerful in bass. The XLO is very clear and neutral that's why I love to use it between the pre and amp. The Audioquest is similar to the XLO but with more detail and a slightly brigter presentation. I used to think cables didn't make that much of a difference and wouldn't use anything over $40. Then 3 years ago I decided to be adventurous and bought the $200 XLO and that's when I became a believer.

I'm just discovering the world of speaker wires now. My previous 12ga Monster can't even come close to the Polk Cobra. The Cobra is better in every way and it's staying in my rig. It's not the kind of "I think I hear a diference". The sound is so different. It's brighter in a good way where more detail is put out without becoming harsh. The mids and highs are amazing. There's so much more HF extension in the Cobras.

I'm a believer.


06-10-2004, 02:04 AM
*wipes tear from eye*

Im so proud of the boy. Making such big steps.

On a side note, I just spent $400 on wire. Thats it for me. Im at the tip of that iceburg and its poking right through the wallet.

No more!

06-10-2004, 02:16 AM
LOL:) Now I need to play around with some digital coax for my DAC and DTI. I doubt digital cables will make that much of a difference because digital signal is much more simple than analog.

Whoaaaa! $400! Which cables did you get?


06-10-2004, 02:32 AM

You are in for one big schooling. If you want a digital cable, get the Stereovox hdxv or whatever... for $100 bones. Never look back again .

I got Signal Cables latest "silver resolution" speaker wire and interconnects.

They wont be shipped until the 14th, God I hate waiting..