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Choosing Cables for Your Audio System Part II
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Choosing Cables for Your Audio System Part II


How much you set aside for cables is up to you!

There are several ways to approach this. It’s my opinion that no matter what your hi-fi system may have cost, you will never realize its full potential, it’s maximum collective level of sonic abilities, without quality cables connecting the components, be it Audio Art Cables, or another brand.

I believe you have chosen to invest money on high performance audio components in order to enhance the satisfaction and fun of something you love dearly -- listening to your favorite music. At that point, why leave the performance of your system short of its best sonic potential?

This can be a hobby full of lavish extravagance, and big-ticket expense. Even more modestly priced hi-fi gear costs much more than is needed to simply have music in the house. But that’s the name of the hi-end audio game. Just understand that if your system is connected up and playing music with nondescript, generic cables, it is likely not be performing to the utmost of its abilities, and you may not be getting all the enjoyment from it that you could be. The level of enjoyment that you paid to get. I believe this, and those who have bought Audio Art Cable products believe this.

Is there a magic formula that can be used to determine how much an audiophile should consider spending on cables? 5% of the cost of your system? 10%? 20%? Unfortunately, I don’t think a reliable budget roadmap exists. I have had the privilege over the years of connecting many different levels of components, some quite expensive and some not so expensive, with our cable products, and have achieved very interesting results. I’ve tested different cable models at all price and performance levels to see how they interacted with various component types and brands.

I have also been in position to visit the mythical “Lunatic Fringe” on occasion, wantonly hooking up more down-to-earth priced gear to some of AAC’s top-line models, creating some rather astounding results in the process. Right now, for example, in my office set-up I have a $699 PS Audio Sprout 100 amplifier powered by a $360 1.0m AAC power1 e AC cable, connecting to a set of $79.95 MIcca MB42X Bookshelf Speakers with a $770 (!), 4.0’ pair of AAC SC-5 ePlus speaker cables. A cable loom I would consider a reckless extravagance with your money. But it sounds sublime. Particularly with the Sprout 100’s bass boost engaged to give the MB42X’s the little kick they need down low. What is more interesting is that the separate additions of the AAC power and speaker cables yielded noticeable results individually, with very nice boosts in performance!

So, after all is said, I don’t have a clear answer for you on the concept of exactly how much to budget for cables in your audio system. I think the same concept applies as it might for component choices. Get the best cables that your budget will allow, with carefully thought out choices. We can help with this part and are always a phone call or email away to offer you at least some ideas to start with. I think there can be a suggested strategy, however, if you are setting up a system from scratch -- Be sure to budget a cost for quality cables when considering the total amount you’d like to spend, and you will not regret it. And if you do not, you will be leaving some performance potential on the table.

Get the best cables your budget will allow; in the same manner you have done with your components. Your ears, your tapping toes, and your dance partner will thank you!

Upgrading at the power receptacle

Upgrading the stock power cables that came with your components to quality aftermarket power cables will make a profound impact on your system’s performance.

If we think about it, everything we experience when we listen to our systems, both through our senses, and emotionally, begins at the power receptacle. Every vibration our eardrums receive through our music systems originates at the power receptacle. Either way you choose to look at this, the power hand-off from wall outlet to component appears potentially significant.

Consider this: to “uneducated ears” or to new audiophiles, A/B power cable upgrade demos, in my experience, make for the easiest boost in performance to discern.

It is a widely held belief, as it is my opinion, that the quality of power transmission in audio systems is very important to overall system performance. Whether it’s in the form of electrical energy coming from a power outlet, a power distribution device, power regenerators, or delivered to your component’s circuitry through its power supply. It all ends up as music in the end, and it all starts with electrical energy delivered from a receptacle, through a power cord.

Various brands of resistors, capacitors, tubes, and other parts in the signal path all sound different, leading to unique and varied selections by component designers, DIY’ers, and those doing custom modifications. Many if not most of these discerning listeners also recommend upgrading your power cables. Venerable component manufacturer PS Audio clearly states this in all of their owner’s manuals.

Revered Stereophile reviewer and vinyl record guru Michael Fremer rather plainly says in a recent component review “In my view, anyone unwilling to try … a [high-quality aftermarket power cord] because they ‘just know’ it can't possibly make a difference deserves the degraded sonic performance they will get” (!). The emphasis here is mine, as it seems he is making a very strong point.

It has been my experience as an audio enthusiast, and as a cable designer, that whatever is done to improve and enhance the flow of current to the sophisticated devices we own in our systems has a profound impact on overall performance. Power distribution devices and power regeneration devices over time have been widely embraced by audiophiles as viable upgrade paths to enhance a system’s performance, and there are many good ones out there.

Power cable upgrades, on the other hand, often remain the hobbyist’s final frontier. What difference could a power cable possibly make, and how could the reason for any improvement be explained or possibly measured? In my opinion, this is why power cables make a difference: the quality and efficacy of current flow to the device is improved or enhanced, and the current flows more effectively. That said, different power cables can sound different, and a plug’s plating type over conductive materials sound different, even though they are not carrying an audio signal. What explanation may exist is possibly unsure, but I am very sure power cables do make a rather big difference!

I can tell you this. There is a viable power cable upgrade for every hobbyist to make, one that will improve the performance dramatically for every system. It may only be one cord to get started. It may be a power cable loom for every component. We are here to guide you in those choices, and are always an email, text, or phone call away.

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