Re: Are cables the weak link in your system?
I can tell you that the owner of a cable company in Calif that starts with "audio..." lives in a multi-million dollar house in Newport Beach. You would not believe the mark-up from materials cost on the "high end" cables. Most are made in China.
Hollywood Studios are often wired with a very good quality Belden cable and field terminated. If that's good enough for mastering multi-track for your CDs and DVDs, you won't be hearing any more than the quality of that cable.
And that's the point. There are so many steps or points in the production and reproduction of music, including the fact that you lose a lot of high end as you age, that you can easily pay for what you can't hear. That high end you swear you can hear might be at 12k but your ears are attenuated at 8k. So what value is a cable that doesn't drop off until 22k?
Me, I go to PartsExpress or MCM Electronics and buy their "high-end" interconnects and speaker cable.
The solution to this mess is for all cables to be certified to some standard similar to HDMI cables. There are lots of technical parameters for cables and all could be tested. At least you could make some judgement by the numbers instead of "It sounds better".