Are cable “upgrades” just as likely to make your system sound worse?

Many of us with highly resolving systems have found that speakers cables and interconnect cables can improve the sound quality of our systems. But are they also just as likely to do the opposite?

A few months ago, I “upgraded” to a renowned speaker cable, and immediately noticed more detail and resolution. I was so pleased I also “upgraded” the interconnects. But with more time I realized that the trade-off for more detail was a thinner sound with diminished tonal richness. Thus began a maddening series of attempts to fix the problem – different speaker cables, different DAC, different streamer, and now even a 30 trial of a new amplifier to try to overcome the thinness and find a more natural tone. It finally occurred to me to replace the out-of-sight-out-of-mind interconnects (with my original interconnects), and immediately the problem was blessedly solved.

Have others experienced this frustration? What recommendations do you have to avoid such fiascos?


Great example of how it is strongly dependent on your equipment. I had the privilege of auditioning a pair of Odin 2 in my system and they were the most amazing, musical, natural and detailed cables I have ever heard.

As did I.  Great cables for big bucks.  And again, in my system, they favored detail over musicality.

Almost everything you do in this hobby results in a tradeoff of some sort or another. I believe this is one the reasons that relying on equipment and cable, etc. reviews and moving forward based on those reviews doesn't always produce results that are pleasing to us. Suggesting that buying only things that can be returned is one answer but that doesn't deal with the circumstance  where you don't fully realize what the tradeoff was and whether you are pleased with that tradeoff for a period of time. Return policies always have limits and you may not realize what the tradeoff was until it is too later to return the item(s), Often I will seek what I think will be an improvement only to discover that the only thing I did was change the sound but that the change is only that and actually not an improvement at all. Can keep you on your toes. 

.. Let me offer a different perspective: Most people assume that when they hear a difference from the new, typically madly expensive cable... it must be an improvement! The expectation of something better, can wire the brain into some serious placebo territory that I think it is important to be aware of.  A difference does not necessarily equal "better". 

IMO, all good things start with the room, meaning that spending equivalent money on acoustics (or buttering up that partner for better speaker placement and the like) is more likely to really improve sound in a big way 😁

Would you spend money on cables in a room like this?:

Cables matched to components ? What are you talking about ? The best RCA cables that I have sound best with everything I tried them with, both tube and SS, both analogue and digital, anywhere. Now that's the cables. And they are both musical and detailed, as usually defined by audiophiles. Not exactly the same situation but close to it with the best power cord that I have. Unfortunately, those my best RCA cables are $2700 pair new. Of course, I am not out of my mind yet to pay that for any cable, Still, I paid a lot for the used as well. I took a risk and guessed it right.