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Cables It's all about connections. Discuss everything about audio cables ranging from balanced to unbalanced, speaker cables to interconnects and beyond.

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Old 08-28-2007   #1
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Default 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.
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Old 08-29-2007   #2
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Default Re: What cables do you use?

For the most part my RCA, S/Video, SACD & Optical cables are Monster.
I don't know what series since some are 20 years old!

My reasons are simple, they are readily available localy, they are much better quality than what the factories send with the equipment, they have a lifetime warranty that is honored anywhere that sells Monster, they have very good customer service & they are relatively inexpensive when compared to the audiophile brands.

I have around $10K in my home theater & while spending a huge amount on cables wouldn't do me much good the Monster cables were a good investment in the long term.
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Old 08-29-2007   #3
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Default Re: What cables do you use?

I started out years ago beleiving cables couldn't make a difference, especially power cords. I used what was around, some Monster stuff, but nothing to remember.

Then, as my system progressed in level one day I sat down and had a long talk with an EE who completely disagreed with me and argued power cords should make a significant change in performance of a product. I bought my first PS Audio PC and tried it on my amps and sources. At the time I was using Linn amps which are pretty immune to PC's, so the difference wasn't much, but when I put them onto some digital sources, they smoothed out the harshness in the upper end of CD's....

A long trip in a short story, I even have upgraded PC's on my cable box now! Many are PS Audio still, though there's an Audience Au24 in there as well. Being so happy with PC upgrades, I ran through several cables. I found a reasonable performance/price for PS Audio statements and they were often available for 1/2 price new as they were due to be discontinued, so I bought a bunch of them and enjoyed them for several years. I still use them for some duties as I just can't seem to sell any gear until I run out of room to store it in anymore.

Last year I got Transparent Reference balanced IC's and speaker wires for the front three in my HT and I must say, the change was more than I expected in a very positive way. The sound simply opened up, instruments had better placement and more air around them, it was just amazing. When the system gets done (like that will ever happen) I will need to wire the rears with them as well!

Oh and rework the power treatment and possibly PC's as well....

Yes, I know, I have a problem.....
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Old 09-03-2007   #4
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Default Re: What cables do you use?

Audio Magic.
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Old 09-04-2007   #5
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Default Re: What cables do you use?

Analog Audio - DIY RG6quad with compression RCA ends from FConn

HDMI - store bought from an online store where I can buy 15-25ft HDMI cables 24awg for under $26. They are UL listed (unlike most off-the-shelf HDMI cables) and have a techflex-like black braiding cover. Gold ends.

Component Video - Belden 7787a (bundled 3 wire 1855a) with Canare RCAP crimped ends (either BNC or RCA depending on application).

Speaker - Transparent Cable 14/4 (raw cable without the filter do-hickies) or Carol 16/4 Sound & Security Cable for in-wall applications. Visible speaker wires are wrapped in black "clean-cut" PET techflex. and finished with FCONN compression fit gold banana plugs.

S Video - just normal Cat5e data cable connected via Leviton quick port SVideo 110-style punch down ends
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Old 10-25-2007   #6
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Default Re: What cables do you use?

I know there are a lot of people out that that think Monster Cables are a rip off, but I like them. While I would probably never spend the extra money to go to an m series HDMI since the 10 Gbps of the Ultra 1000 is a high enough speed to provide more than enough bandwidth for 1080p video and the Dolby trueHD or DTS hd audio even at higher bit color processing and 60 Hz output. I was impressed at the difference I saw in the picture clarity when I first upgraded my cables.
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