Do Costly XLR Cables Make A Difference?

Serious question here. I currently own a rather good XLR cable that goes between the amp and DAC. I’m considering a better XLR cable to improve things, basically all the good aspects of sound reproduction such as deeper and more defined bass, better separation and detail across the frequency spectrum and an airier and more 3-dimensional sound in the midrange and treble. Will a different XLR cable supposedly one that’s costlier bring me to that direction?

My current XLR cable costs about $2k actual price paid.

I’m looking at an alternative pair up to about $2k perhaps $3k tops if it is proven that the cable is able to bring a noticeable or worthwhile if not significant difference. I am actually looking at the Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 and Gold Eclipse 8 XLR.

Any experience would be appreciated. 



Serious question here…

My current XLR cable costs about $2k actual price paid.

I’m looking at an alternative pair up to about $2k perhaps $3k tops if it is proven that the cable is able to bring a noticeable or worthwhile if not significant difference. I am actually looking at the Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 and Gold Eclipse 8 XLR.

Any experience would be appreciated

Have you gone the other way and compared the $2k cable to a $100?
Was it noticeably better?

No, I don’t have a $100 XLR cable on hand so I’m asking for experiences here. I usually don't consider cables below $500 for the main system.

Hi @ryder

I’m skeptical. No, not a "cable skeptic", as I have spent significantly more money on cables than any true skeptics ever would, and believe that they can indeed make noticeable differences. But I am also a strong believer in diminishing returns, and am skeptical that a very expensive XLR could be significantly better than an expensive one, assuming that the materials and build quality of both were what one should expect for the price levels that you mentioned.

I suppose that if one cable employed silver, or silver and copper, while the other was pure copper, there could possibly be some difference in SQ, but that would be more a function of basic design, and not necessarily cost.

Like you, I don’t A/B in the classic sense, mainly because it would be extremely difficult and expensive to do so. But like most audiophiles, I have listened to a variety of cables for extended periods of time on my own system, and with music that I am very familiar with. I don’t consider confirmation or expectation bias to be significant factosr, as there have been instances in which I really would have liked to have preferred a recent acquisition, but found the opposite.

Over the past ~20 years I have used Audience cables more than any other, and, after a couple of fairly recent "grass is greener" forays into other brands, have returned to the fold. I use Au24SX speaker cables, and Au24SE XLRs, both of which were purchased used. The SX was the previous top Audience model, and the SE were one step below. So, would a pair of Au24SX XLRs make a difference? Or a pair of their current top model, the Front Row?

I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I am skeptical that any differences would be significant. I say that partly because when it comes to cables, I believe that even well-established companies with products made with good materials and based on good design principles typically feel compelled to create model hierarchies, with the top-end, of course, being targeted to those who can afford to spend serious money in a quest to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of their systems. So I assume that the differences between the top models, and those a step below, are very likely to be small, if they even exist!

My two cents.

I do not know what you are currently using but here are some points of consideration. At your price range you can check some cables from Acoustic Revive (triple c reference or absolute) Furutech (nano flux pcocc), Acrolinc (mexcel ducc), even though some of them are near or out of your budget. That's where i would look, for the best copper around. Since this territory is costly i would suggest to try before you buy and probably check the possibility of using the entire cabling from one manufacturer, it will be less costly in the long run.


In brief; it depends entirely on the build and performance,,( and intuitively a matched price point …) of your bespoke system as a whole. Synergy of the WHOLE system matters.

In detail: it depends on whether you have the top-tier strata high-end electronics with the requisite resolution, slam, and dynamics, actually worthy of the new high-end cables performance capabilities to do their thing.

Plunking in a high-end cable in a budget or a middlin’ strata equipment system is a recipe for disappointment and a predictable poor choice. The analogy would be say …putting on high-end MICHELIN PILOT SUPER SPORT high-performance tires worthy of a JAG or VETTE on your Honda Civic….…they just won’t work to improve your ride as hoped for ,…full stop.

My experience: When I upgraded my system to a 5-figure digital source and stablemate 5-figure integrated amp… then presto …. Yes …. upgrading from $250 supplied cables to NORDOST FREY XLRs first , and then ultimately further uogrsde to CARDAS CLEAR XLRs was a sequential step and immediate audio performance improvement that was not subtle.

In addition to the now added audio performance resolution, slam, and dynamics full capabilities revealed in the electronics, the occasional annoying sibilants and any digital “edge” was removed.

NOTE: they are NOT tone controls to introduce any kind of new coloration slant to the audio performance.The CARDAS CLEARs are a neutral keeper for me.

I have never used XLR cables.  But in another thread I gave my recollection of what the person I consider the subject matter expert had to say.  Quoting myself:

According to Ralph (Atmasphere), if both components use true balanced architecture, there is minimal benefit in using uber expensive balanced interconnects.  Ralph, if I have misinterpreted the above feel free to correct me.

And in the same thread @gdnrbob added:

Though I might have read it wrong, I believe Ralph's (Atmasphere) belief in using equipment that adheres to the AES standard is that it minimizes cable artifacts (sound differences). Given that recording studios use such equipment, and their cables can stretch of long distances, it makes sense to use it.

So, if your equipment follows the AES standard, then XLR cables will/should not 'color' the sound as much as RCA cables. (And, from my limited experience moving between Mogami and AQ, there was very little difference in sound quality).

The key issue, again according to others with professional experience, is whether or not your equipment adheres to the true AES standard, versus just having balanced connectors.

As @jetter stated in quoting Ralph it totally depends on the equipment you are connecting. If both pieces follow the AES standard there may not be any improvement noted. Unfortunately in reading a lot of other comments and observations by Ralph on this subject many, if not most, pieces of home audio do not follow this standard. Once the standard is not a factor then the quality of construction and quality of wire (either balanced or unbalanced) become very important in the performance of a system.

I get a kick out of cable reviews that sound like wine reviews.  You've written the review before you got the cable.

Good cables make a difference.  Expensive cables does't always mean good cables.  

I like to make my cables out of Mundorf Angelique wire.  Parts connection has seveal  nice choices of XLR connectors.


Cables make a difference but rarely are they worth the price, and they are usually subtractive in some way.  That is, they limit treble or mid range making these expensive tone controls. We get excited to hear that a $10,000 set of cables made a significant difference in our system, and since it's 10x more expensive this difference MUST be better, but it's smoke and mirrors.

I use homemade balanced cables, shielded with pure silver wires and silver contacts and gave up on my expensive Wireworld cables entirely.

Your investments in room acoustics will pay much better dividends.

There are quite a few opinions here, but the best advice is for you to borrow cables from a local dealer or the Cable Co. and decide for yourself. There are so many variables, even aside from personal preference.

“Will a different XLR cable supposedly one that’s costlier bring me to that direction?

Not necessarily. I am using two sets of XLR’s in my system, the 2nd XLR costing only $1K which is 1/4th the cost of 1st XLR, offering great performance and synergy with rest of the cables / components. Instead of focusing on cost, I would focus on cable; what would be the best cable irrespective of brand and cost (within your budget) would allow me to squeeze the best performance out of my DAC ➡️ Integrated and meet your aforementioned criteria.

The cables are much like any other component in your system. I recommend auditioning different brands of cables through your dealer network. Before I make a suggestion, may I know what speaker and power cables being used in your system?

It depends. We’re your original cables carefully chosen, researched across the spectrum of what is available? Then did you try several based on those you thought would be the best match? If not, it is likely of a much better sounding option.

I would think it is possible. But you want to get loaners, do comparisons. This is the best way to really customize your system to the exact sound that is right for you. You now have a “reference” set of interconnects. See if you can do better.

@jerryg123 The XLR cables will be as good as RCA.  I think your point is that they won't be better.  

I use XLR on one amp because the way the XLR is implemented seems just a tad better to me.  but it is specific to that amp.  It has a jensen transformer in the circuit.

It depends how resolving your setup is and what you’re looking for in a new cables. 
I recently borrowed Kimber KS1136 and Audience AU24SX to compare with my Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper. Every set had a unique sound signature. I was pretty sure the AU24SX would be a better fit since I am using the AU24SX speaker cables but after days with each set, I ended up keeping my AZ Absolute Copper. 
I also ran Mogami Studio gold between pre and amp for about a month. While it worked well, in the end the Mogami weren’t on the same level. Back went the AZs. 
I’m not trying to tell you to get AZs. All I’m saying is you need to listen in your own system. Do what I did and borrow from the cable company. 

@carlsbad exactly !! 


The XLR cables will be as good as RCA.  I think your point is that they won't be better.  

my short answer to op’s question is

yes but it depends on how good the system is (as always) -- i also feel rca interconnect sonic differences are more easily heard than balanced... this probably due to the fact the proper balanced design is more self-isolating to the transmitted signal, allows less deleterious impact from external interference

but in either case, one need not spend megabucks to obtain top top notch sonics

Just spent a delightful week listening to 4 x cables from same manufacturer. 1m cable at the low end $2k at retail, top end eye watering…. Dealer who loaned them to me has a fantastic room and system. He came over a couple of evening to get a read on them in another system. He is an awesome guy.

Very easy to hear differences in my system. Some sonic attribute changes were significant, some very subtle or a slight negative most likely due synergy…

Against my old reference cable even the Copper acquitted itself very favorably and in a world of rising prices is a fantastic value. 

Bottom line, listen in your system if at all possible ! Enjoy the music and the journey



I didn’t really compare many XLR cables, but I did go from RCA to higher quality/price balanced within Audioquest’s lineup and that was an improvement. I also did the same with Shunyata power cables. I purchased with sixty day trials and just paid return shipping for full refund on what I didn’t want. This included an $11K cartridge that I was unable to send back because it was so very good. That said, they would have taken it back with no questions asked. So, the real question is whether it is worth the time and the return shipping costs. For me, it was worth the extra effort. I should mention that I worked with someone that provided good advice and even talked me out of some purchases that he thought were not worth the extra money. His biggest contribution was convincing me to spend a good bit of money on the power side of things. The improvements that resulted were eye opening. Of course, that brings up the question as to where you could spend money to get the greatest improvement.  For me this was power conditioner and power cords.


Maybe is the only answer. Sadly there are a whole lot of “salesman” out there and prices are not necessarily a measure of value in cables.  See what the Cable Company has that you might want to try.

All the best.

audioquest Dragon XLR might be worth considering.

audioquest Dragon XLR


Not only is Dragon the best interconnect audioquest has ever made, it’s quite possibly the best the world has ever seen or heard.

With its ultimate combination of world-class materials and cutting-edge Noise-Dissipation technologies, Dragon comes as close as presently possible to AudioQuest’s sonic ideal — completely invisible cable. It features Solid Perfect-Surface Silver (PSS) conductors, ZERO-Tech, FEP Air-Tube insulation, Silver-Plated RF-Draining Barrels, and Level-7 Noise-Dissipation in which even the shield-drains are 100% PSS.


What you failed to mention which is far more important to the end result is What dac are you using ? I would hope at least $5k+  if you are willing to spend $2-3k on interconnects ,much much more important to say buy the latest Best Buy 

Holosprings May KTE dac, or Denafrips terminator2  or + mordel 12 th anniversary.

I own a couple of XLR’s from Cerious Technologies. They sound different than my previous cables from Cardas. I liked them and kept them.

@pedroeb Yep….. the Dragon was in my loaner set…… very transparent and very expensive…… 

I find it interesting how often we equate the sound quality to the price we paid.  I have interconnects made by Morrow Cables and my system sounds great.  I only buy from Morrow during their 60% off sale, which happens to be going on right now.  And it's not just Morrow who has perpetual sales on the go.  Many many cable companies have their product on sale all the time.  I mean really, does anyone think MSRP is a real thing?  So when the OP says he's will to pay $3K, is he looking at cables that have MSRP of $6K - $8K ?  

Mogami xlr makes the best xlr cables that good studios use, and if you want better make your own using neutrik or switchcraft gold plated xlr connectors. You can make your own cable better than most other companies and I’m not kidding, copper and plastic is very cheap no need to pay a lot for it unless it’s gold and some kind of electro plated metal or plastic incasing the wire, even a magnetic shielded cable shouldn’t cost so much 🤑🤡

As mentioned it depends on your system and of course ears. I’ve used Canare which is surprisingly pretty good, great for the money. I use these cables on my drum kit to mic. Later I moved up to WyWires Silver XLR which was a big jump up, everything improved, more refined, separation between instruments both in width and depth. The Canare in comparison closed in, a little rolled off but still a pleasant cable. Still have the Canare and WyWires but now have a Nordost Frey 2 and it’s in another league. Using to run my RME ADI 2 fs DAC directly to my amp and it’s outstanding. I’d like to give all the credit to the RME, which maybe it’s the DAC, but the Frey 2 is letting it show what it’s capable of. I only have the one Frey 2 so I’m stuck running DAC direct to amp, as when I throw the WyWires back in the chain to use a dedicated preamp it’s not as good. Preamp is a ModWright LS 36.5 so it’s no slouch. I’m sure there’s a lot of high dollar cables that are not worth it but many are. As always, trust your own ears.

If the signal path fully balanced through all of your components that kind of cable upgrade probably makes sense. 

If I was looking to spend $2,000 on balanced cables, I’d start with Iconoclast 4x4 cable in the material of your choice. I like that the designed by someone that not only demonstrates that he understands the science behind cables, but also recognizes that there’s more to cables than the measurements. His designs are very weld thought out, but they are also offered in multiple conductor materials. You also get 30 days to send them back for any reason.

I might be able to talk myself into the budget BAV variety at some point. Unfortunately, the rest of well above anything I’d consider to be a reasonable purchase.

At a minimum, read the iconoclast design brief.

You already own "costly XLR cables."

Try and obtain loaners of the cables you want to purchase through a dealer, friend, or The Cable Company, and then listen to them and compare directly with your current cables in your own system. If you really want to verify the value, have a friend randomly change the cables between your current cables and the new cables and then try to choose which you are listening to, or which you like better, without knowing/seeing which cable is in-place. Do that at least 10 times and if you cannot pick the same favorite at least 7 times out of 10, then don’t waste your money.


IMHO, Silverfi cables are exemplary for all the criteria you mentioned. They are hand made by Sezai Saktanber in Turkey. There is a review of my exhaustive search for the type of cable you describe on the Silverfi website. They are so good, I upgraded to Reference Black XLR. Absolutely no regrets! Very highly recommended!




I can only answer your question based on my own personal experience in a similar situation using Cardas.  Upgraded from Clear to Clear Beyond from my source to my preamp.  Forgetting the $$$ for a moment, very similar to what you are asking,  yes there was a very definite improvement for me.  As others have said already, so much is dependent upon the components you are connecting.  In my case it was noticable in two different systems, one using Pass and the other using Atma-sphere.  With A-S as others have commented and as Ralph at A-S says between the preamp and amp a better cable did not make an improvement for me.  But between the source and pre it did.  With Pass improvements were obvious everywhere.  My conclusions as so often said IT DEPENDS.

if you want the very best cable use rectangular OCC wire check out the Neotech Amazon and Sahara the Amazon is their rectangular OCC silver single crystal wire and the Sahara is a rectangular OCC copper wire both are some of the best on the market and just for your information Neotech makes OCC wire for most of the big manufacturers that charge an arm and a leg more than they do. OCC single crystal wire has been proven to be the best wire for audio for over 50 years now far superior to anything OFC on the market.

if you want the very best cable use rectangular OCC wire check out the Neotech Amazon and Sahara the Amazon is their rectangular OCC silver single crystal wire and the Sahara is a rectangular OCC copper wire both are some of the best on the market and just for your information Neotech makes OCC wire for most of the big manufacturers that charge an arm and a leg more than they do. OCC single crystal wire has been proven to be the best wire for audio for over 50 years now far superior to anything OFC on the market.

You have to try Acoustic System Internetional cables. They made the difference.

cheap or expensive cables could be compromised by where they run. ie:  how close your cables run to household electrical wires and HVAC equipment., what else is sharing that circuit.   Audio Research had an interesting study done decades ago about the necessity of running a dedicated circuit to your equipment from the breaker box. 60 cycle interference, motor starting loads called LRA (locked rotor amps) , backfeed from other household appliances, etc. distorted performance.  

Running your cheap or expensive cables too close to high voltage wires is discouraged by higher end cable manufacturers. 


Thanks for all suggestions which are greatly appreciated. I was looking at the Wireworld Gold Eclipse 8 but was recommended the Platinum 8 instead. Need to sell a kidney to get those. Perhaps I'll reassess my priorities.

@lalitk currently in the main system;

Chord Signature XL speaker cable
Acrolink 8N-PC8100 power cord
Acrolink 7N-PC9700 power cord
Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo XLR

What dac are you using ? I would hope at least $5k+ if you are willing to spend $2-3k on interconnects ,much much more important to say buy the latest Best Buy


@audioman58 i have 2 DACs occasionally rotated in the main system;

Chord QBD76 MSRP $6k,

Luxman DA-06 MSRP $5k.

Actual price paid was lower since I bought used. I actually paid more for the power cord that’s currently connected to the DAC, either one!

A bit off topic and a rant but does anyone else despise those goofy battery pack things on AQ Cables as I do?


Thanks for listing your cables. All of those are mighty fine sounding cables. I don’t think your current XLR is your bottle neck. The improvements you’re seeking points to a weakness elsewhere in your system, more specifically one of your components. What is the upstream component being used with your DAC’s? I would sit back and reassess your entire digital chain and find that one component to open things up before you spend any money on a cable.

The Denafrips Terminator,and term+ , 12th anniversary and HoloSprings May KTE dacs 

are substantially better ,you mentioned Chord these dacs are sonically more natural and musical then the Chord Dave , the dacs you have are a older generation . I am in a multi state audio club and have heard the vast majority of equipment out there ,sometimes very expensive .

just look at the Many reviews on these dacs, the Denafrips 12 anniversary I only heard briefly the + is better still , these did into the recordings without being over analytical like the Dave dac can be ,and is  even more $$ .  This I can guarantee 

you buy any of these above mentioned dacs ,sell your 2 and you are will be much more musically satisfied. Having been a Audiophile for 4 decades and owned a Audio store .digital has finally arrived over the last 2-3 years. 

Have to agree with the above analysis.  With improvements in digital, in your case your $$$ are better spent upgrading your digital components.  At least that's been my experience.

I have really enjoyed the Iconoclast 4x4 UPOCCC Gen 2.  Absolutely destroyed the top of the line cables fro Audience (SX), Cerious ( Matrix) , Townshend .

Separation of instruments and depth between instruments on the stage is what really stands out besides the overall balanced sound. 

Bob from Iconoclast is awesome to work with. 30 day trial. They pay shipping both ways. Who does that?

You must buy in 5ft length. For some reason I had a 3 ft length in the same configuration and did not have the same magic. Bob says all their demo’s are 5 ft so their must be something to it. Very stiff cable so the extra length may be needed anyways. 

I use it in between a fully balanced Bricasti M3 into a balanced Coda CSIb integrated. 

Give it a try. Risk free. 

Cost doesn't equal better.

Just yesterday, I tried an Audioquest Vodka ethernet and I preferred the stock ethernet cable that came with the streamer. One is $500 retail, the other probably around $1 wholesale.

Some might've call it better because it was more resolute in the upper mid and highs and I heard things I didn't hear with the cheap cable, but with that improvement, the lower frequencies receded. I decided to stick with the $1 cable (for now) because the A/B test dictated so.

When I get the head space, I'll try again with another brand. 



I am not an "objectivist", and, as mentioned in my initial comment, do believe that cables can make a difference. But since a poster recommended these:

Iconoclast 4x4 UPOCCC Gen 2

I thought that some readers might be interested in Amir’s review of the Iconoclast (TPC version) XLRs, and the response from the cable designer, etc. (Spoiler alert: they measured very well, but were indistinguishable from much cheaper cables)