What cables do you use?
It occurred to me after reading an earlier thread about cable disasters that cables are the unsung heroes of the AV world. Now, I know there are two trains of thought when it comes to cables, those who think they're snake oil marketing ploys and those who believe they are the single most crucial part of any audio system. Well, this thread is about those of us in the middle. Having owned a myriad of cables from the ultra high end to the super budget (including some DIY CAT-5 speaker cable) I've come to the conclusion that cables do make a difference however, I don't feel you have to spend an arm and a leg and maybe a kidney to buy them.
For instance, for years my reference two channel rig consisting of NAD gear and a pair of Paradigm Mini Monitors were connected via Mapleshade interconnects and speaker cables. While a bit on the esoteric side, the Mapleshade cables provided true high-end performance at sub Mega Store prices. It was the Mapleshade products that opened my eyes to cheaper (relatively speaking) but high performing cables such as the UltraLink and XLO cables I use today. Like most of today's manufacturers UltraLink and XLO have product ranges and prices that run the gamut, however, even their most inexpensive wire has proven solid in both sound improvement as well as investment. I use them both almost exclusively in my reference HT system.
Now here is where I break with my previous sentiments a bit because I do use Transparent Reference speaker cables and interconnects in my two-channel setup. I do this because I feel when talking about absolutes in terms of performance Transparent is the way to go. However, more often than not, I listen to music via my whole home audio system, which is wired with Monster Cable. Like an exotic car my Transparent cables come out to play when the mood is just right.
Cables are like after market parts on a car. Sure you can put a supercharger on a tin can and make it do tricks but that doesn't change the fact that it's still a tin can. However, if you have a balls out testament of engineering you're not going to slap on that Wal-Mart brand spoiler on the back of it either. Like all things, AV cables are and should be looked at relative to the system and the budget. All to often I hear of folks dropping serious coin on something like Transparent cable only to hook 'em up to sub par electronics that aren't really going benefit the gear or the user either way.
That being said, I'd love to hear what others out there are using to "hook up" their systems. What have you learned along the way? What is fact and better still, what is fiction? Or if nothing else post a list of what you have. Give us a mini review if you'd like.
It's all good.