A New Believer

I have listened to many systems over the years, and have never appreciated the difference speaker cables can make to a sound. In fact, I was so skeptical of the sound changes they can make that I have always not bothered with any special type of cables, generally going for generic (and dare I say it) roughly made ANY copper wire plugged in to amp and speaker. Well, imagine my surprise when I decided to do a blind test and listen to what difference cabling can make. Wow, my Vand 3A Sig's had been getting strangled! (some of you guys may want to strangle me if I told you what connects I had been using). So I am now a firm believer, cables DO make a difference.
Who's the shill?

Rok2id, that's easy. In our case it is the cost of the materials that makes almost all of the difference. I suspect most are like us too, in that the higher priced cables have a lower percentage mark-up over materials cost than our cheaper cables. And our percentage mark-ups are much the same as equipment manufacturers have. There are some people with crazy mark-ups for sure though - I could name a few and quote some verifiable facts to support that - but don't tar everyone with that brush.
04-13-11: Antipodes_audio
In our case it is the cost of the materials that makes almost all of the difference.
Antipodes_audio, can you explain why and how more expensive materials will tend to reduce (to a degree that is significant at audible frequencies) the "two-fold time-domain issues" that you mentioned as being key, namely "signal-smearing and phase distortions"?

Thanks. Regards,
-- Al
We apply our best thinking on time-domain issues to all of our cables, so the difference isn't always that.

With the speaker cables the cost difference is simply using twice as much silver wire, and solid, high purity wire that has good sound characteristics costs real dollars. More so when there a couple of added stages where we apply gold and platinum to the silver wire. So no time-domain issues between the speaker cables, just more grip and articulation in the bass, and a bit more ease, in systems that need high current transmission. Both use the same wire, same insulation and same geometry (kind of).

With the interconnects, the Reference achieves better resonance control (which is an important time-domain issue) through using solid gold wires together with the silver wires. There is one gauge of wire that we need to have in the mix to get a balanced result with the Komako, that if we replace with gold wires, gives us a significantly better result. Applying the gold and platinum to the silver wire is good bang for the buck, but substituting this particular silver wire with a gold one makes a huge difference. And, of course, gold is many times more expensive than silver. We have many customers that bought Komako interconnects and then tried out the Reference in our upgrade program, and everyone so far has returned the Komako, not the Reference (for a refund). Many have come back to say they were astounded that the resolution and refinement could get that much better.

I am sounding like an advertisement, sorry. I was an enthusiast like the rest of you here, posting under the moniker Redkiwi for many years, until deciding to commercialise what came out of a lot of cable experimentation, and would prefer to interact in these forums as an enthusiastic audiophile (whose hobby got out of control) rather than to promote the business. But it is necessary to disclose my interest when I do that.

My purpose was just to put forward the view that time-domain issues are critical to the way we hear, and for what we hear to sound natural. And that achieving excellent time-domain performance in a cable is not easy. (And its not cheap either).

Electrical engineers are very inclined to a reductive view of physics, dismissing many known issues as irrelevant at audio frequencies. By that they mean they are too small to be heard. Convenient when making a competent product, but how exactly do they know we can't hear them? As I say our ear/brain is incredibly sensitive to time issues, as that system is constantly separating out what we hear, its direction and its location, and that system is far more dependent on time-domain accuracy than timbral accuracy. Not only are (some) EEs reductive about physics, they also make gross and unsubstantiated assumptions about how humans hear.
To Antipodes_audio:

Thanks for the very detailed discussion. It increased my understanding of the wire question. My next question is this: A commonly held opinion on this site, states that you have to have a system that is capable (expensive enough?) of allowing a person 'hear' the effects of wire. Is that true, or can wire be heard on so-called 'Lo or mid-fi' systems? Assuming the listerner has normal hearing.
Thank You