Cable curmudgeon

I'm not an 'audiophile" but I like to think I have a good ear having been a professional musician (principal wind player in major symphony orchestras) for 50 years. A number of years ago going into an excellent audio equipment store I talked with, what seemed, a knowledgeable salesman.  Being a musician experienced in audio systems but not expert on all the equipment out there I had some questions concerning high (over-priced?) end cables. The salesman assured there was an audible differencet in a demo room switching back and forth etc.  After a few minutes I noticed the sound coming out of only one channel.  He complemented me on my "good ear."  Hmmm? A few years later when setting up my home system I investigated speaker cables. Two sets of Monster, stranded standard cable, solid core copper (used for alarm system) attached with like connecters. There was a difference.  However, not in terms of better or worse: bass and treble were acceptable as was clarity loud and soft.  Differences were esthetic- like asking "whose the best tenor" (I like Plácido).  Now I know as a musician used to live (i.e. un-amplified) music that all I hear coming out of a loud speaker is perforce ersatz.  But most everything today comes out of a loud speaker whether a rock concert or a hi-fi system so perhaps my opinion is curmudgeonly. But, for me, spending oodles of money on hyped cables, well... I  liked the solid core for my alarm system- still do.



When I first started out I couldn’t hear much, if any, differences between wires and CD players, but with time and experience they become obvious and much easier to hear and appreciate.

Could be that you got better at listening, or possibly, you've become indoctrinated with the audiophile orthodoxy.  Reading mags, going to audio shows, hanging out in audio forums -- next thing you known your fuses are directional.  I'm just saying.

When I first started out, my Radio was the main method to listen to music replays, as that was immediately available and in use regular within the home.

I developed an interest in Buying Vinyl LP Albums as a Teenager, along with friends, CD and Vinyl LP's were contending, this was the golden era, I would imagine for the commercial side of HiFi, two bites of the Cherry for Album Sales and transitions from one Source Material to another and the sales of equipment needed.

Music Replays were much enjoyed and the equipment used to achieve this was not too overbearing as a discussion.

Live music was my main interest, the LP Collection and replays were more rainy day activities.

Reading HiFi Media was for Older Types, Concerns for SQ were not debated, the use of the Vinyl or CD was to mainly familiarise oneself with the new material being produced by Artists and being ready for upcoming concerts. 

As the time passed and I became more homely minded, a interest in HiFi System Building developed and has been a mainstay interest. There are influences in abundance when this line of interest develops, the whole of the arena is all about the equipment, Sales Men, Media, Enthusiasts forget the music and beat the drum about the equipment and exchanges, upgrades, modifications and the resulting assessments of the SQ. 

Everybody has an opinion, and everyone has unique sensitivities that will help them determine what they like, when assessing equipment, resulting in an endless amount of descriptions on offer.

With Music it is a little different, there is an impact, a knee jerk emotional experience, something hits home, an indelible encounter has happened, to the point for some, in the minds eye they aspire to be the Performer/Musician.

Then there are the lesser types who are motivationally influenced and actually attain their aspiration to become a Performer / Musician. 

I am totally aware of how being present at a live performance and actively participant in the celebrations, is quite different to being a lone listener in a room experiencing a Music being replayed through equipment.

The former has proved best for uplifting my spirits and creating indelible memories, where musical encounters are concerned. .







You have just entered a topic of much debate.  

IN MY Opinion 

Cabling…power cords - interconnects - speaker will make things sound different. whether you like the change or not is up to the individual.

Best to get great components that work well together and then tryout a few products to see if they’ll enhance your sound.

Remember it’s a hobby and have fun…the used market is a great way to experiment.  Many times I have bought and sold items and usually recoup my investment.

Enjoy Tony



I started with a cardboard record player. When I got a little older, my mom let me play records on her console stereo. The sound was better, especially the bass. Next step was a Dynamo ST70/PAS 3x powering Utah 12" speakers. Better. Then I swapped out the lamp cord for Monster cables. There was an undeniable improvement in sound quality, which was even more noticable when I upgraded to some B&O speakers.

I had to leave the Monster cables at home when I went to college, and went back to zip cables. That only lasted a few weeks, and despite being a broke college student found the money to buy another set of Monster cables. The Monster cables sounded better, and I was rewarded by my cable upgrade and was content. There was no question that the Monster cables performed better in my modest system.

Flash forward to today. I have a small collection of decent cables, and can afford to buy whatever I want. I enjoy monkeying around with speaker cables and interconnects, and there are differences, but they are subtle (not big differences like the zip cord/Monster cable difference). What I seek today is lack of listening fatigue and easier involvement in the music. Sound "quality" stays about the same: if I listen just for a few minutes I can’t discern much of a difference, but after a few hours it is easy to tell which cables work better in my system.

Like you, I'm a flutist with academic degrees in music - and I have a high-end audio system. I'm the last one to claim that my ears are better than anyone else's ears. In fact, I have two "golden ears" people whose opinions I highly value when deciding on equipment, and neither of them knows anything about music. I think it's about how closely you listen, and how you evaluate what you hear.