I've been building my first 'real' HT/Music system for about the last year and a half. *In the course of building the system I've been scouring magazines and forums for information to help me build a decent system w/out spending too much money. *I just had an interesting expeirience with speaker cables that I thought I might share with you. *(I just read the rather scathing rebuttal of the AudioQuest 'FAQs')
My sytem is basically a Denon 3802, Panny CP72 DVD A/V, and Paradigm Monitor 7s L/R, CC 370 Center, Boston Accustic rears.
I had originally wired the system using a plain jane 16 to 18 gage speaker cable. *I originally bi-wired the fronts (I know that's a whole other diss.). *A freind of mine had access to an employee discount from Monster Cable and could get anything at about 70% of list. *So without too much research I settled on Z2 bi-wires for the fronts and a Z2 center. *Seemed like a #### of a deal. *It took about 3 months to get the cables and in that time I kind of became dis-enchanted with the whole exotic speaker cable thing. *I thought that with my system I probably wouldn't be able to hear much of a difference and worse my girlfriend would think that I was really foolish! *I became resigned to the idea that it would be mostly a cosmetic improvement.
We got the cables a week ago and hooked them up. *When we sat down the next day to really listen to the system. *My girfreind (very skeptical) surprised me and told me within the first track we listed to that she could hear a difference and thought that it sounded much clearer. I had to agree. *We were listening to the Buena Vista Social Club DVD Audio 2 channel stereo track. *We listened to several DVD-A and CDs, and I really think there was a significant audible improvement. *The speakers seemed a tad forward on the highs but with good clarity and detail before the cables. *They could be a little fatguing to listen to for long durations with music at high volume. *After the cable swap the highs were less forward with more detail and not fatiguing at all.
Now I personally believe that Monster is one of the worst offenders when it comes to cable marketing vodoo. *Much of the 'specifications' for their cables is a buch of marketing lingo dressed up as engineering that makes it impossible to tell what they really are doing in their cable design. *However their cables made a real sonic difference in my system. *Maybe the old cables had some defects, or its just the difference in gage.( I wouldn't know because Monster doesn't give the wire gage in their 'spec') *Also the idea of using cables as tone control (attenuating high frequency) seem to be a poor way of compensating for system defficiencies (sp?). *However, I think that the previous cables were potentialy causing the highs to be distorted (non-linear impedence vs. frequency?).
I think that after my experience that if one were to find good quality ( I know that's the hard part!) cables for the $100-$300 range they would be a good purchase. *Of couse companies like Monster make it almost impossible to tell what kind of quality your getting.
In doing a little more reaseach I came across a decent white paper on a cable company's site that you may want to check out. *The company is called Analysis Plus. *I ran across a review of their cables on Hometheaterhifi.com and a few other sites. *There short story is that they were/are a communications cable company that in the process of testing other cable companies speaker cables realized that most didn't perform well. *They decided to get into the market. *They approch seems to be very egineering/scientifically based. *In addition their cables seem to be not that expensive.
Check out their white paper. *I'd love to hear some response on it.