AUDIO FORUMS >> General Discussion and Support >> Good, Affordable Speaker Cables

Message started by Don W on 09/12/12 at 16:48:41

Title: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by Don W on 09/12/12 at 16:48:41

I needed a new set of speaker cables to go with the Mini-Torri and ERRs I recently got. When I bought the Taboo/MG944 setup I got a set of Decware Zen Styx silver cables. At the time they were $250 for 10 a ft. set. Today the same cables are going for $450. Apparently, the increase is due to the rising price of silver, something Decware has no control over. While these are really nice cables, I still have a difficult time paying that much for cables.

So I started looking around and found a set of used PS Audio eXtreeme Plus on EBay which I ended up "winning" for under $100. Wow are they huge! And heavy. And to my mind ugly. I'm not that impressed with the sound they deliver either. They tend to darken things a bit and don't have the quickness that the Decware cables have. At least that is my subjective experience of them...

Then a couple weeks ago I stumbled on a review of Paul Speltz's "Anti-Cable" which compared them favorably to cables costing 10 or 100 times as much. A set runs $10 per foot, and that includes termination with either spades or bananas. I thought for that money I could try them and if I didn't like them oh well. So I ordered a set. I can only say these are the polar opposite of the PS Audio cables. They are very thin and light weight and are a kind of metalic red color. One cable basically consists of two solid core 12 gauge wires twisted around each other. The wires are coated with a very thin "dielectric" which gives them their red color. (According to their creater, it is the minimal dielectric that gives these cables their edge over traditionally made cables which have far more dielectric surrounding them.) Interestingly, these cables are uni-directional. That is, one end is supposed to be connected to speakers, and the other end to the amp.

Well, I got my set of Anti-Cables in yesterday and I have to say I am impressed. Not only are they physically polor opposite of the PS Audio cables, they are opposite sonically as well. They bring a quality of lightness or airyness to the music. And they have a quickness which is palatable. The music seems to be running down hill in a way, always just a pico-second ahead of the beat. I have to admit I might be immagining these qualities - that maybe the lightness of the physical cables makes a subconscious suggestion that the music is lighter as well. (I am something of a sceptic when it comes to sonic differences in cabling and such, or you could say I'm a reluctant believer....) But even so, these cables are beautiful. And after all, it is our subjective experience which we actually live with.

How do they compare to the Decware cables? Well, I could say they seem more open and airy than the Decwares. But less forgiving. The Decwares are very, very smooth. The anti-cables not quite so much. Both cables seem fast but the anti-cables maybe just a little faster. With neither cable do I have the feeling that either highs or lows or mids are being lost or rounded off in any way (as opposed to the PS Audios which definitely round off the highs and make the lows seem kind of muddy.)

I've ended up pairing the Anti-Cables with the Mini-Torri and the Decwares with the Taboo. A few reasons: The Taboo is more transparent and less forgiving than the Mini-Torri, especially when used without the CSP2+, so it doesn't need any help in this department from the cables. Also, I find the Mini-Torri to be a bit on the dark side when compared to the Taboo. Highs are not as strong or pronounced. This might be the price for the big punch that they deliver in the low end. The Anti-Cables seem to help liven up the Mini-Torri where as the Decwares are more neutral in their delivery.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by Lon on 09/12/12 at 17:24:49

Congrats on finding a nice synergy with the Anti-cables.

I have PS Audio xStream "Statement" cables that I also bought severely discounted years ago. While I wouldn't say that they attenuate the highs, they do seem to favor the midbass, and that actually has helped my system in the past. I replaced them with the Zen Styx and these took forever to "bloom" in my estimation, but they are in fact the best cables I can imagine and I've lived with their one short-coming: they seem a bit lean to me (when I use my "reference" recordings, recordings I made of bands I was in in the 'eighties).

The PS Audio are working very well with my Torii Mk II and the HR-1s in my second system. I read elsewhere they were more "refined" than the Plus version. I'm quite happy with them in the second system. They sure are heavy, and I don't particularly find them ugly, they're quite nice looking to me, big and blue! I had to find just the right "end pieces" for the screw-on termination for them to work with the HR-1s, but finally did from an Australian company.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by Don W on 09/12/12 at 17:34:16

Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder when it comes to audio equipment. I think the PS Audios are just too dominating asthetically. That and I found them difficult to manage if the length isn't just right. The anti-cables kind of disappear, which I like, and are easy to manage.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by Lon on 09/12/12 at 17:48:58

The Anti-Cables seem to resemble very closely the Reality Cable interconnects that I have. Very revealing interconnects, but I found them tipped up, the lower frequencies just didn't seem to have any weight to them. I did like their dynamic signature though.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by deucekazoo on 09/12/12 at 17:54:23

I like those cables also. I wired up the WO32s with them when I made them. They are nice and thin but still a 12 AWG so they were easy to hide inside the panel. They are simple and copper and that is what I like about them. I don't like silver wires or interconnects in my setup. Just as an FYI they also sell it as a DIY cable per foot, no connections. A lot cheaper than other stuff out there.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by sberger on 09/13/12 at 01:14:50

Wow what a coincidence!  I just got my order of Anti Cable speaker cables today. I basically have the same results as Don. I think they do a good job of just getting out of the way.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by Lon on 09/14/12 at 14:01:46

deuce, I didn't like silver interconnects until I tried the Decware. They take a long time in my opinion to really "bloom" but when they did they outshone any copper interconnects I had used up to that point, including two pair that cost more than twice their price (TARA Labs and PS Audio).

And I've tried two different pairs of My Audio Cables silver interconnects that really do sound even better, the UltraSilver + and the Silver Quad + cables. The latter are astonishingly good in between my PS Audio GCPH phono preamp and my CSP2+, surprisingly muscular and very detailed without being harsh or shrill in any way. Just knocks my socks off, nothing else in that position touches them, not even the interconnects that I use in the rest of my system now, and my favorite for digital components, the "Version 2" cables. These are copper, and unlike any other silver or copper cables I've used, full-bodied and just forgiving enough for the varying quality of recordings I play. These too surprised me, and I reluctantly bought two additional pairs after trying out the first. Still, that Silver Quad + has the magic for that one link between components; I'm very curious to try them out between ZP3 and CSP2+ when the ZP3 arrives.

And the Zen Styx speaker cables are the best I've ever had in my system, so glad I bought them. Actually for months after I did buy them I  had my doubts that I'd ever get enough bass from the system, but the bass came in and they're just so nice. They're silver-plated copper I believe, which hadn't worked too well for me before.

So I guess my conclusion from all my experience is that it isn't "copper" or "silver" that really determines whether I'd really like a cable--these metals may play a role, but ultimately I've come to love examples of both and a mixture of both. And I'm very happy with the choices I've made, they seem to complement the rest of my system quite well.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by deucekazoo on 09/14/12 at 18:33:54

A while back a local audio company let me borrow a few of their interconnect cables. Two pair of them were silver or a combo of silver and copper and the rest copper. I don't know what it was but the copper ones just sounder better and had more detail. I know probably opposite of what silver sounds like to everyone else. That is why this hobby is fun. One thing does not work for everyone and it is fun hearing the differences in different components and combinations. Right now I am on the kick of hating RCA connections and speaker connections. You have this beautiful cable connecting to crappy connectors and if you want a good connector it cost a sh*t load. I am really liking the speakon connectors. Simple, lockable, easy to put on and take off. I put these on the WO32s I made. They are the 4 pin version and very nicely made. I have a SS amp I will be putting the 2 pin version on just to see how it works. The original connectors on it are broken. I could see myself changing all my stuff over to these in the future.

Title: Re: Good, Affordable Speaker Cables
Post by Lon on 09/14/12 at 19:16:09

Yes, it really is fun that there are all these combinations and possible synergies and landmines and skyrockets in audio. As far as cables go, I think that there are so many variables BESIDES copper or silver (or for that matter palladium or gold) such as insulation, termination, and metal type. The biggest "mind-blowing" cable "thang" I've encountered in the past few years has been in power cables. There are some that just make others tremble in fear of inadequacy in my system, they use PCOCC "mono-crystal" wire incorporating different gauges and shapes of wire in each cord and they make my components behave in ways no other power cords do. It could be the wire, it could be the shape and gauge combinations and binding, it could be any number of things, I just know I love them. .. and they're damned expensive!

In a way I view cabling as tube-rolling, sometimes that can drastically alter the sound, sometimes there are subtle differences, and sometimes you just go NUTS and lose your frame of reference and a bit of your sonic sanity. (Speaking for myself at least!) :) I've tried enough and found some that really work for me and I have luckily, for now, stopped the search and enjoy the sound heartily.

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