Interesting take on cables from a high-end audio dealer

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Well, I guess he’s right…

System Design 101

I almost made the mistake of spending too much on pair of 3k ic’s from Transparent Audio, . but came to my senses in part thanks to Dirk. Yes they sounded very good, but I was able to increase the SQ of my system even further, just by bi-wiring with a spare set of speaker cables I had lying around. That 3k I was going to spend will now go towards a BHK preamp.


I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s not recommending expensive cables, I think he’s saying you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot. But then he says they do (can) sound better. Then again ‘expensive’ is subjective. I think it’s funny when I read posts, say on Audiogon, or even here I guess, where there are a lot of people with pretty good money to spend, when they talk about what a ‘bargain’ a $1-2K cable or power cord is. I tend to upgrade when I can afford it and when it looks like an improvement can be realized, but the most I’ve ever spent on a cable of any kind is around $425 which is what I paid new each for my last 2 power cords. I believe in cable differences but past a certain price point I don’t think you are necessarily getting better sound…different maybe. But you may be getting more expensive materials and superb build. Also, I think there is a lot of intrinsic value, for many people anyway, knowing that they’ve provided the best they could afford for their systems. Kind of like providing the best for your kids or pets or buying a new expensive car. It makes them feel good and when you feel good about something you’re more likely to enjoy it


Correct. What he’s saying is, if you only have so much to spend on a system, buy the best gear you can afford, because that is where most of the gains will come from. If money is not an issue, and you have a mega buck system, then go ahead and spend a fortune on top notch cables, because they will make a difference.

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The cables you buy should compliment the equipment you have selected and not the other way around. In my opinion, a cable can never make a piece of audio gear sound better than it intrinsically can sound. A cable can however, make it sound worse.

The best a cable can do is get out of the way and do nothing. The better the design, the less influence it has on the sound, and the more it reveals the character of the gear it’s connected to.

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Andy looks exactly the same after all these years. Bought a pair of speakers from him in 1995 after getting my first bonus.

I agree. To a point. Speaker cables were the last thing I addressed in my system. I used a pair of 8 gauge silver coated telfon I built and they were better than anything I auditioned for less than ~1k. Finally broke down and bought a pair of Cerious Technologies Graphene Matrix for ~ 3k. Those are giant killers as well and are better than anything I heard up to about $8k. I wasn’t happy about spending $3k on speaker cables but with $60k into components the ratio made sense to me.

I think cables (speaker, IC, power) absolutely matter but I agree with the thoughts that I’d put money into an amp/preamp first and then upgrade. Just my 2 cents.

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With my active speakers there is no speaker cables in my system, just XLRs. :grin:

I agree with Andy. I too purchased equipment from him going way back… California Audio Labs CD player among others… and he introduced me to Cardas Quadlink interconnects… that I only just replaced last month.

I lived in NYC for a while and his shop was the only high-end shop what wasn’t snooty and he let me walk around by myself (when they weren’t real busy). Maybe he had some respect for me as I walked, by myself into one of his rooms where a turntable was playing and I recognized it was clearly no set up properly… I mentioned it to him… he became concerned (maybe one of his folks did it!).

Anywho… I noted this before about speaker cables. I had the fortune to take home a big load of used cables of various vintages and prices. Magnepan speakers and VTL amps were the devices. All cables sounded different but only the cheapest were not as good sounding… about mid-to-low mid priced they stopped being not good. After that, all were good to me… choosing was difficult.

From this, I re-learned something… difference does not mean better or worse… so for me, high price is a waste of money big time.

Bruce in Philly


Just got around to watching this…nothing stated is as radical as the title would imply.

Gotta love clickbait misleading titles. What would we do without the internet? Possibly lead richer real lives ; ) It is sorta good and “brave” of him to lay this out, but it is also in his interest as one of the last big brick and mortar dealers standing. And there’s only one thing he is saying that is brave-ish, and that is - don’t spend too high a proportion of your system cost on cables. If you buy more expensive components through him, he can make a buck, and you are likely to be happier with the sound, and come back to him for your cables as well. Or if you don’t, he sold you better/more expensive components.

This is one of the things that gets lost in the Cable Wars sorts of online discussions, which often seem to be started by people who harbor a disgust for anyone spending X amount of money on something they don’t value (and often have never experienced firsthand). If your system gets built up to the point where significant gains can be realized by the purchase of “expensive” cables - and those cables are actually LESS costly than it would be to make a component upgrade, and they help you realize the potential of your already great components - the fiscal profligacy argument goes out the window.

I’ll make another plea for the adoption of “IMS” (in my system) to become a standard parlance/disclaimer. On top of everything else they talked about is your ears and taste. It seems sometimes like the biggest issue we face in audiophile-land is this Search for Absolutes…the Absolute Sound, the Best Way of sourcing and playing back music, the Best Cables for the money, the Best Way to Set Up your system in a room…

It’s all about synergy (or degrees of lack thereof) between your room, power, components, gear, cables, ears and taste - I may have left some stuff out : ). I don’t think there is any Absolute Formula for that.


@badbeef - very well put. It is good to gather ideas, better to really understand the ideas relative to your particular system, and always better to listen to the ideas as selected concrete choices before purchasing.

Forgot - the first thing I think about when someone has any idea is what are they going to benefit from that exchange of an idea. After being on the planet for 60 years and purchasing millions of $ of crap through the years, it is ALWAYS about the money. Also, when someone says it is about the principle, a red flag immediately goes up.

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I also had a CAL Delta Transport at the time and liked it…it was a cheaper alternative to the hip Madrigal block of that era :wink:

I have a Cal Audio player sitting around somewhere as well. They were great.

I have spent a lot of time over the years looking for synergy. Price is somewhat correlated to SQ but I’d guess the r2 is .5 and not .99. I’m very happy with the cables I have now. Can I better them w/o spending crazy $$$, maybe/maybe not. I’ve got a bin full of cables, some I’ve paid as much as $1k for used that I thought would be an improvement but weren’t.

Even the word improvement is loaded. What I think sounds good might not be to your liking. Doesn’t make either of us wrong.

To me cables are a bit like tires on a car. You can put the best possible racing tires on a Prius. In the end you will still have a Prius and you will only experience the best performance the Prius is capable of producing. you won’t make it become a different car.

A Ferrari with terrible tires will not give you all a Ferrari is capable of but it will still out perform the Prius. The right tires, when mounted on a Ferrari, produce an extraordinary experience. (Substitute whatever performance car you prefer in the example).

Tires (or cables) need to be matched to the car (or component) to bring out the best in the car (or component). I still think the advice to buy the best component you can is sound and wise.

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Great analogy, except you can put the best tires on your car for a lot less than you’d spend on the best cables for your Hi Fi rig.

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Unfortunately true…