How good does my system have to be to realize an improvement with cables?

I've heard the difference power cables and interconnect cables in a highly resolving system so that's not the question.  $200 for cables  on a $500 DAC doesn't make sense to me.  Wouldn't that $200 be better spent on a better component?  At what point is an expensive cable the best choice?  Spending $500 on a $15,000 DAC does make sense as the transparency and resolution of the component could be better realized with a better signal / power source.

My question is what's the  percentage of the overall component's cost should be the cabling and at what point should it even be considered?

Or put a different way How would you know if your cables are your weakest link?



I like the 10% guideline @ghdprentice listed above.

I think pretty much any component with a $5k price tag (-ish) MSRP or above is probably going to benefit from a decent power cable and interconnects. 

It's up to you to find the synergy and what works for you, your system, your ears and your budget.







I generally agree with @coralkong.  But I’d say if your speakers are at least about $5k and the rest of your components >$1k, better cables should be pretty evident if your system is set up right in a decent room.

 I have actually heard a significant difference when I plugged a spare $500 power cord into a $1k receiver in my second system.

@overthemoon Would you mind sharing what cables you tried with your McIntosh gear? I just upgraded to a C2700/MC462 combo. Using AQ Mackenzie XLR interconnects and generic 12AWG speaker wire. Pretty happy with the XLRs but haven't compared them to anything else. I'm definitely ready to upgrade to some nicer speaker cables. I don't want to break the bank, though, (<$500) and don't know where to begin.

+1 to what @ghdprentice said about trying before buying. My experience with audio equipment is that it's not so easy to equate price to sound quality improvement. On my $1700 Denafrips Pontus II DAC, I've tried 7 different power cords ranging in price from $15 to $600. The one that sounded best to me was a $94 Supra LoRad power cords. The more expensive Shunyata Venom V10 NR & Synergistic Research UEF Blue power cords were quieter, but also seemed to take the "air" and spatial cues out of music.