I, too, often question my own ability to discern differences when I make a change to my modest system and my financial position these days limits my ability to experiment. While I long for the audio nirvana espoused here, I continuously agonize over how much of nirvana I can achieve or get close to with what I already own and an extremely limited budget for making changes/improvements. To that end, I’d like to relay my own recent experience with changing my speaker cables.
I’ve been closely following the ICONOCLAST discussion, but even with the BJC relationship making them more affordable, they’re well beyond my means. But, the sub-conversation about Belden 5T00UP cable intrigued me and piqued my interest, so I purchased a 100ft spool for just over $1/foot, which is well within my experimental cost comfort zone.
Cutting to the chase, after installing the 5T00UP I heard an immediate and profound difference in the sound of my system, for the better. It’s been a few weeks now and I am still aware of and notice the improved sound. The change in my sound was like washing a dirty window or cleaning my glasses. The sound became clearer and details became more defined. I seem to now notice far more low level detail and sound in music, movies and even run-of-the-mill TV shows.
I attribute this change solely to the 5T00UP, but I made a couple of other minor changes which may also have had some effect, which I will describe in more detail.
I started with my B&W Matrix 804’s connected to my Meridian 558 amp with Transparent Audio HP 14-4 cable and inexpensive banana plugs on either end. This cable contains four 14AWG wires, which were wired together into a pair of banana plugs. This effectively created a single ~11AWG cable connecting speakers to amp. The B&Ws had the factory straps installed, connecting the high and low frequency binding posts together.
When I installed the 5T00UP, I decided to use two runs of cable between the amp and each speaker, removing the B&W factory straps and using separate binding posts for each cable on the amp end. This results in ~7AWG between speaker and amp, but in a traditional bi-wire configuration. I also opted to not use banana plugs and instead use bare-wire termination to the binding posts at both speaker and amp ends.
I also, for the first time ever, tipped my speakers backwards slightly, which changed the vertical axis alignment of the tweeter/midrange to my seated ear level. Admittedly, this may also be playing a huge difference in the low level detail I’m now hearing.
I’ve been so pleased with the end result that I have not had the inclination to go back to my original configuration to determine which of the changes made the most impact.
I ended up only using about 30ft of the 5T00UP cable, so for less than $50 and some time spent, I have realized a significant improvement to the sound of my system and my enjoyment level.