Do Interconnect and Speaker Cables Make a Difference?


Many people ask me this:

Are X cables better than Y cables? Or worse, what do you think of X branded cables compared with Y brand?

These are completely pointless questions.

It’s a little deceptive to compare cables, even specific models of cables. Cables tend to be hugely reactive to the equipment to which they’re connected. The reason cables impart changes to sound is due to their impedance characteristics, but much more importantly, on how their impedance aligns with the input/output impedances of the equipment they’re connected to.

Ever heard of “impedance matching”? This is a term used more in high frequency industries than audio (radio, comms, etc.). When input/output impedances of connections are mismatched with that of the cable, funny things can happen. Reflections can occur to the point where it easily creates enough distortion to render the signal useless, even at very short lengths. This is why coax cables in come 75ohm flavours. Now, you don’t quite need to impedance match audio cables, but such is the sort of behavior that can happen, albeit to a tiny amount, which may affect the way and extent to which cables can affect sound.

Comparing cables in this way is like comparing the babies of two equally intelligent and healthy set of parents. Which will be better? Who knows. It depends on how they grow up and the environment in which they do so.

Finally, cable technology hasn’t had any significant improvements in the last 70 or so years. Cables are some of the most simple and fundamental components in the electronic system. No cable manufacturer could possibly put their cable’s superiority down to design. Material and quality differences are perfectly valid, but I find it hard to accept when ripoff companies charge thousands of dollars for what is essentially a fancier looking piece of copper in some more colorful plastic.

Don’t fall for it.

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