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Speaker cable suggestions for a small system


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Hi,

So, I am looking for some new speaker cable for my mini system. I am still new to forum, so I hope I am posting this in the right spot.

The sytem is a Denon D-M39S. It is a fun little system. I want to keep my budget reasonable. I am thinking 15 % of the price of the system for cables plus or minus. I should mention that I also have a Dragonfly DAC 1.2 and am including that price along with the price of the D-M39S to come up with a figure. If you have never heard the D-M39S, it is very musical, without being harsh or tiring.

Currently, I have some monster speaker cable it is about a 12 AWG that my friend gave me. At first I really liked it. It ramped up the base and the highs, but I am finding it fatiguing to listen to for long periods (the bog standard cable it came with did not do this). So, I need something new.

The specs of the system for the amp/cd player are:

Power Output (6 ohm, 1kHz) 30 W

Number of channels 2

Freq. Response (Analogue In) 20 Hz - 20 kHz

Frequency Range FM 87.5 Mhz - 108.0 MHz

The specs for the speakers are:

Type 2-way, bass reflex

Drivers "12cm bass-mid 2.5cm dome high"

Impedance (ohms) 6

Frequency range 45 Hz - 40 kHz

The speaker cables I am considering are:

 

Audioquest FLX-SLiP 14/4

This cable got a 5 star review from WhatHiFi and was awarded product of the year for 2013.

It would be $ 50 for two 10 foot runs terminated. Because I am not bi-wiring this cable would give me about an 11 AWG.

Kimber Kable 4PR

I can’t find any reviews from the big audio mags online, but it has been around for along time (1979?), and seems to be reasonably well regarded by the audio community.

It would be $ 137 for two 10 foot runs terminated.

Blue Jeans 5T00UP 10AWG

I have only been able to find a review in Audioholics, but they seem to like it. Some people, on other audio forums like head-fi have also sung this cables praises. Also, I understand they supply the cables for a lot of pro applications like recording studios etc.

It would be $ 80 for two 10 foot runs terminated.

 

So what would you people suggest? What would give me the best bang for my buck for this little system give the 6 Ohm speakers and power output of the amp (30+30 wpc)?

 

I am open to other suggestions for speaker cables too.

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I re-wired my home theatre system with Blue Jeans 5T00UP with locking bananas earlier this year. The cables are solidly constructed and the shipping was very fast.

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They were an improvement. Better than the cables they replaced in every respect.

 

Having said that, the cables they replaced were Anti-Cables so the performance bar was set about as low as it could be. They connections were not solid at all. I am convinced the owner of Anti-Cables runs a large dry cleaning business and his speaker cables are made from recycled wire hangers that he coats with a thin red film plastic. I'm not joking. They are super stiff and exactly the consistency of wire hangers.

 

Anyway, within your stated budget, I think the Blue Jeans are a great option. I have not tried any of the others you listed but have owned and enjoyed various Kimber Kable product in the past. Used cables are also an option but be careful with counterfeit product. Fake Audioquest cables are all over the place and they look real in person.

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So what would you people suggest? What would give me the best bang for my buck for this little system give the 6 Ohm speakers and power output of the amp (30+30 wpc)?

 

I am open to other suggestions for speaker cables too.

 

There is really no way of knowing in advance which of the three speaker cables you are considering will sound best in your system. The specs of your cd/amp and speakers are of little assistance as they don't present an out of the ordinary challenge for any cables.

 

Although there is likely to be little audible difference, I would suggest that you buy speaker cables that are no longer than necessary. If 8 foot runs are suffice, don't buy 10 foot. Gauge, i.e. 10AWG vs 12AWG should not be a factor with the lengths you are considering. Quality of terminations is more important.

 

See if you can find a dealer who will let you return the cables if you are not satisfied with them. Though some will no doubt disagree, my experience and that of virtually everyone I know is that new cables will take a while to "burn in" before you know how they will sound in your system. Give them at least a two week tryout.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Hello,

 

I appreciate what you are saying about needing to try the cables and burn them in. I have been playing around with some different stuff. I have some old Tara Labs 16/4 stuff, but was not all that happy with it. I bought some dirt-cheap Rocket cable - just 16 AWG oxygen free stuff from the local big box store and it sounded REALLY bad – it was returned right away.

 

Right now I have the Monster cable, which is OK but sounds too aggressive. It has been in there for over a month and I just can’t get into the sound.

 

My goal with the system is build a really nice sounding but inexpensive setup. So far, the Denon and the Dragonfly 1.2 are the only things that have worked out well. The Denon has an expansive sound stage (for its size), and is very rhythmic - the DF enhances this. I enjoy listing at high volumes sometimes.

 

Generally, my music collection on the computer is CD Redbook 16/44, but I did get a few 24/96 albums (Fleetwood Mac: Rumors – which I highly recommend) etc. So, it all sounds nice.

 

However, my cable choices have not been working out (this includes the interconnect RCA to mini).

 

The local hi-fi shop will let me audition cables if I want. But before “pestering” the guy I wanted a bit of advice as he has to order the Kimber. Blue Jeans cable has a 30 day return policy, which is good.

 

I know the quality of the copper and the type and quality of casing can affect the sound. Also, there is the geometry of the cable that impacts the sound.

 

For some reason I am having a hard time finding something I like for use in this system and wanted some input. Is my budget just too low?

 

So, if anyone has some input on choosing a cable for a smaller system and specifically about the cables I have posted, please let me know.

 

Thank you for all your advice so far.

 

P.S. Funny quote in your sig!

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These Kimber 4TC's could be just the ticket at about $200 (high side of your budget though):

 

http://www.usedcables.com/product.aspx?iid=7980&mid=-1&cid=215

 

or

 

http://www.usedcables.com/Product/Galileo-Basik--Spades-

 

 

They are fully returnable so you could order both and return one of both of them after listening.

Home: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen+Farad | UltraRendu+Farad | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | 2 Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers  | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12 

Home Office: IsoRegen+LPS1.2 | Denafrips Iris | Denafrips Venus 2 | Blue Circle Audio SBT preamp|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12

Office:  Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE w/preamp module | Blue Circle Audio BC-28 amp | Raidho X-1 | REL T/5x sub

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Hey,

 

 

With respect to your idea about termination, I agree. The current speaker cables are bare wire at the amp end, with bananas attached to the speaker end. They are not bad quality (I think they are Monster also).

 

 

That is one of the reasons I was interested in the Blue Jeans stuff. It has high quality gold plated locking banana plugs that are cold welded to the cable.

 

I understand the Kimber uses high-end plugs (could get better ones but they are more than half the price of the cable!), but for the level of cable I am considering they are crimped on – don’t know about the high-end Kimber stuff.

 

The AudioQuest cable has reasonable quality gold plated bananas, but to the best of my knowledge they are crimped on.

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Hello,

 

Thank you for this! Have you tried these guys out? Are they honest folk? What about buying older cable? Are there any pit falls to watch out for besides the usual ware an tear? The 4 TC looked interesting but was a "bit" outside my budget new. Have you ever tried the 4TC?

 

So thanks again!

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Hi again,

The plot thickens in my search for inexpensive, but nice sounding speaker cables to go with my little office system. I found this article on the WireCutter regarding the best speaker cable. Surprisingly, they recommended the Monoprice 2747 12 AWG. For 15 bucks a roll. Which works out to .29 cents a foot.

 

The measurement they got was: 0.010 ohms*, 16 pF for the Monoprice 2747 (12 AWG). *Please note that the resistance is per foot.

I found this recommendation very surprising given the gear they were testing it with and the testing method they used. The gear used was:

Krell’s S-300i integrated amp

 

Krell’s Resolution One speakers

 

Entech’s Number Cruncher 205.2 DAC

 

Panasonic’s DMP-BDT350 BD player (just used as a CD transport)

 

At the end of our test, we swapped in Hsu Research’s HB-1 Mk2

So, some heavy duty gear to be sure! I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on this.

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You don't want to spend a lot on speaker cable, unless you have a very high-end system and money to burn. I used to use Kimber Kable 4VS, but replaced it with this, at 1/8 the price, for reasons I don't need to go into here. This Furez cable sounds as good or better than the Kimber to me, and it would probably outperform other generic brands like Monoprice or Belden.

It is also available in 10 gauge and 14 gauge.

 

Furez 12 AWG 2 Conductor Speaker Cable Raw

 

This vendor, Douglas Connection, can make high-quality custom-terminated cables for you. Peruse their website. I have bought speaker wire and power cables from them, and their product line and service are excellent.

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Hi again,

The plot thickens in my search for inexpensive, but nice sounding speaker cables to go with my little office system. I found this article on the WireCutter regarding the best speaker cable. Surprisingly, they recommended the Monoprice 2747 12 AWG. For 15 bucks a roll. Which works out to .29 cents a foot.

 

The measurement they got was: 0.010 ohms*, 16 pF for the Monoprice 2747 (12 AWG). *Please note that the resistance is per foot.

I found this recommendation very surprising given the gear they were testing it with and the testing method they used. The gear used was:

Krell’s S-300i integrated amp

 

Krell’s Resolution One speakers

 

Entech’s Number Cruncher 205.2 DAC

 

Panasonic’s DMP-BDT350 BD player (just used as a CD transport)

 

At the end of our test, we swapped in Hsu Research’s HB-1 Mk2

So, some heavy duty gear to be sure! I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on this.

 

12 AWG should be more than adequate unless you have a REALLY long run. It is also what BJC uses, fwiw.

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That wirecutter article is a good one to read, except for the caveat that the poor guy doesn't know how to measure speaker wire resistance. You can google for a chart of wire gauge vs ohms per foot, and if you have a nice set of cables, it should measure right near those values, connectors included.

 

This is going to sound like one of those condescending audiophile things, but you shouldn't be complaining about speaker wire sound quality if you just have bare, corroded wire ends that you jam into your amp and speakers.

 

You have to be wary of Chinese or cheap cables because sometimes they lie and you get some other conductor material instead of copper.

 

I also don't like the Blue Jeans cables because they are on the stiff side. But they are good quality for a reasonable price.

 

I like the KnuKonceptz Kord cables, available either from Amazon or their own website. It has many thin strands so the cable is surprisingly heavy and flexible.

 

Then if you have a soldering gun, crimp and solder on some gold-plated spade connectors from Radio Shack. I built a set, and it measured right near the expected resistance value, connectors included. When I put them in my system, it wasn't just like veils were lifted, but rather the walls of my living room fell away and sunlight and a gentle spring breeze flowed in.

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The AudioQuest cable has reasonable quality gold plated bananas, but to the best of my knowledge they are crimped on.

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a crimped connection if it's done properly with quality materials. WBT spade connectors are probably as good as they get and they are usually crimped.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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You don't want to spend a lot on speaker cable, unless you have a very high-end system and money to burn. I used to use Kimber Kable 4VS, but replaced it with this, at 1/8 the price, for reasons I don't need to go into here. This Furez cable sounds as good or better than the Kimber to me, and it would probably outperform other generic brands like Monoprice or Belden.

It is also available in 10 gauge and 14 gauge.

 

Furez 12 AWG 2 Conductor Speaker Cable Raw

 

This vendor, Douglas Connection, can make high-quality custom-terminated cables for you. Peruse their website. I have bought speaker wire and power cables from them, and their product line and service are excellent.

 

Hi wwaldmanfan,

 

Thank you for your suggestion on the cables. I like that this company posts their specs on their web site. I will check them out.

 

I hear what you are saying about not spending too much. I think I just got a bit frustrated with finding something inexpensive, but nice sounding. Kimber started looking good all of a sudden – even though it would bring my cable allowance to 50 % of the price of the system when you add on the interconnect. That is crazy.

 

How would you describe the sound of this cable that you are suggesting? Is it neutral, or does it provide more in the high or low end?

 

How did you ultimately decide on these cables for your system?

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That wirecutter article is a good one to read, except for the caveat that the poor guy doesn't know how to measure speaker wire resistance. You can google for a chart of wire gauge vs ohms per foot, and if you have a nice set of cables, it should measure right near those values, connectors included.

 

This is going to sound like one of those condescending audiophile things, but you shouldn't be complaining about speaker wire sound quality if you just have bare, corroded wire ends that you jam into your amp and speakers.

 

You have to be wary of Chinese or cheap cables because sometimes they lie and you get some other conductor material instead of copper.

 

I also don't like the Blue Jeans cables because they are on the stiff side. But they are good quality for a reasonable price.

 

I like the KnuKonceptz Kord cables, available either from Amazon or their own website. It has many thin strands so the cable is surprisingly heavy and flexible.

 

Then if you have a soldering gun, crimp and solder on some gold-plated spade connectors from Radio Shack. I built a set, and it measured right near the expected resistance value, connectors included. When I put them in my system, it wasn't just like veils were lifted, but rather the walls of my living room fell away and sunlight and a gentle spring breeze flowed in.

 

Hey beanbag,

 

Thanks for the tip on keeping the cables clean and well managed. No, it does not sound condescending – just good basic advice. I am quite fastidious about this and always ensure that the ends are not corroded or that there are any stray wires causing a short. The cables are always cut to the same length and I make sure the wire is well twisted up so it does not splay out.

 

I agree hole heartedly about cheap Chinese wire. I like to buy US, or Canadian, or European made stuff when ever possible, not only do you get a better more consistent product, but one is supporting employment in those counties.

 

Never soldered any speaker cables before, if I decide to go this route is their any particular solder I need to use to not interfere with the audio signal too much?

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with a crimped connection if it's done properly with quality materials. WBT spade connectors are probably as good as they get and they are usually crimped.

 

Hey Al,

 

Thanks for the info. I never knew that.

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Hi wwaldmanfan,

 

Thank you for your suggestion on the cables. I like that this company posts their specs on their web site. I will check them out.

 

I hear what you are saying about not spending too much. I think I just got a bit frustrated with finding something inexpensive, but nice sounding. Kimber started looking good all of a sudden – even though it would bring my cable allowance to 50 % of the price of the system when you add on the interconnect. That is crazy.

 

How would you describe the sound of this cable that you are suggesting? Is it neutral, or does it provide more in the high or low end?

 

How did you ultimately decide on these cables for your system?

 

Good cables do not have a "sound". What you want is transparency, the absence of coloration.

I bi-wire my speakers, so I'm actually using the 4-conductor version of the Furez 12-gauge cable that I suggested to you. I chose it because I wanted 12-gauge OFC in a flexible, 4-conductor configuration. There aren't many products out there like that at a reasonable price. Belden makes something similar, but I could not find a dealer that stocks it, and sells it by the foot.

 

I think uber-expensive cables are silly. Others may disagree, but I'd rather put my money into better speakers and components. And, there's no shame in opting for something less expensive vs. an overpriced, agressively marketed, boutique product, as long as it does the job.

 

Most folks here would suggest that you spend no more than 10% of the total cost of your audio system on all your cables put together--your digital cables, analog interconnects, speaker wires, and power cords combined. Contact the guys at Douglas Connection by email if you have specific questions about their products. They are very nice people, and will help you out.

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Good cables do not have a "sound". What you want is transparency, the absence of coloration.

 

Sure, in theory. Unfortunately no such cables exist in the real world.

 

Same goes for speakers, components, etc. All cables, speakers and components color the sound.

Home: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen+Farad | UltraRendu+Farad | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | 2 Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers  | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12 

Home Office: IsoRegen+LPS1.2 | Denafrips Iris | Denafrips Venus 2 | Blue Circle Audio SBT preamp|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12

Office:  Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE w/preamp module | Blue Circle Audio BC-28 amp | Raidho X-1 | REL T/5x sub

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Good cables do not have a "sound". What you want is transparency, the absence of coloration.

I bi-wire my speakers, so I'm actually using the 4-conductor version of the Furez 12-gauge cable that I suggested to you. I chose it because I wanted 12-gauge OFC in a flexible, 4-conductor configuration. There aren't many products out there like that at a reasonable price. Belden makes something similar, but I could not find a dealer that stocks it, and sells it by the foot.

 

I think uber-expensive cables are silly. Others may disagree, but I'd rather put my money into better speakers and components. And, there's no shame in opting for something less expensive vs. an overpriced, agressively marketed, boutique product, as long as it does the job.

 

Most folks here would suggest that you spend no more than 10% of the total cost of your audio system on all your cables put together--your digital cables, analog interconnects, speaker wires, and power cords combined. Contact the guys at Douglas Connection by email if you have specific questions about their products. They are very nice people, and will help you out.

 

Exactly what I wanted to hear re: the sound of the cable! The TraLabs stuff that I have was quite a good cable at the time, not too expensive and I had some extra laying around, but I found that it brings out the highs more on this little system - which is bothersome. It is also stiff as all get out.

 

The BJC stuff looks good to me because of the nice plugs, the welding process they use, and it is a widely loved cable on a lot of forums. However, the stiffness of the cable and the ugly factor is a bit off putting (my cables will not be hidden).

 

I think part of the fun of this hobby is trying stuff out, so I will check them out more.

 

Thanks again for your input.

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Is the BJC neutral sounding?

 

Sam, Blue Jeans Cable has a 30 day return policy, so you have nothing to lose apart from shipping cost by trying their speaker cables. I have dealt with the company and they are certainly reputable. I bought HDMI cables to replace more expensive cables that no longer worked properly between my DVD player, cable box and TV. I was relieved to learn that the problem was not the HDMI inputs on my TV. I would only add that you should be sure to read the Return Policy on their website before ordering so you know exactly what conditions apply.

 

OTOH, Kimber 4TC cables have a large and loyal following, if you are prepared to spend the extra money to try them.

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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