Price Isn't Always Indicitive of Quality or Performance


I had spent over $1000 on a Synergistic Research Cable.  The Atmosphere Level 1 level, to be exact. I was using this as my main source cable to my powered speakers. It was absolutely DE-MOL-ISHED by Lavricables' Grand line for a mere $500. It isn't that the SR cable wasn't good.  I was impressed with it and it was a major upgrade over their Foundation line and a phenomenal upgrade over Audioquest's Yosemite cable. 

SR and Lavricables use similar tech, but only Lavricables uses pure silver practically throughout.

Here is the over all make up of the $1000 SR Atmosphere cable:

4 conductors.
Conductor: Silver/Copper matrix.  Or....silver and copper wire twirled together. Purity unknown. Actual wire gauge unknown.
Dielectric: Teflon
Source Connector: gold plated copper, cryo treated and has graphene applied.
Speaker Connector: Silver plated silver, cryo treated and has graphene applied.
Has a silver-plated copper mesh as a floating shield.
Uses a Tesla Coil to burn the cable in (quantum tunneling) prior to shipping out.

Now...Lavricables' $500 cable:

4 conductors.
Conductor: 20 awg 6N pure silver. Each group is laminated separately in Teflon before being encased in Teflon dielectric insulation. Graphene is applied at key points through out the cable.  The cable was cryo treated.
Dielectric: Teflon
Source Connector: Trillium Copper plated with gold. Cryo treated and has graphene applied.
Speaker Connector: AECO ARP-4055 Pure Silver RCA Connectors. Cryo treated and has graphene applied.

The unbelievable sound quality from pure silver was so immense and powerful.  It was no longer like listening to music as it was more like experiencing the music.  The music was pushing into you.  Similar to going to a concert and having the music beat and play in your chest. There were songs that had distortion at either loud, high pitched, or at peak cacophony that I attributed to being part of the recording. The Lavricables proved that it was simply that the SR cable was incapable of reproducing those notes.  WHAT!?! I mean, how do you engineer a cable to fail at $1000? I guess so it doesn't out perform or come too close to your $10,000+ cables. In Lavricables, the Grand line is tops; there is nothing higher.  They pour *ALL* their knowledge, best materials and techniques in the Grand line.

I thought long about this and I think I figured it out. It isn't that Synergistic Research is necessarily trying to rip anyone off.  It's the cost of doing business in the United States.  Lavricables are located in Latvia. Synergistic Research and Audioquest are based out of California.  The average MSRP markup on goods in CA is 3000%. To compare, Texas's MSRP markup is 300%. So the cost of materials will be higher to make the same product in CA than it would in TX. Synergistic Research and respectively Audioquest, has to charge what they do to maintain living and operating out of CA. But in Latvia?  It is clear to me that the materials, tech and know how isn't that expensive there.  So it can be surmised that the cost of living and operating out of Latvia is less expensive, which means they can offer the highest grade product at a much lower cost than if the same cable were made here in the United States.

I am thinking of replacing *ALL* my cables. O_O

128x128guakus

@sns

I disagree. Discussions on cables are very informative and have on many occasions helped me decide what cables are best or what cables exist for my particular application.

I have built several cables in my system but the DIY knowledge that exists on the internet is very limited and all I have found seem to focus on basic geometry. Such as a basic twist of two to three conductors and on occasion employ an external wrap of the "ground cable" over the main bulk of conductors. In addition to this, the quality of materials available for DIY are generally not the super-high end you can find in higher tier cables offered by premium cable manufacturers. For example, you can’t order solid, pure silver cables that are encased in Teflon dielectric. Also, connectors you buy have to be 3rd party. I know of no one who owns an RCA, Stereo-Pin or XLR mold where they can forge their own solid copper or silver connectors or have the tech to plate such connectors. So, even if one makes their own cable, they are still using materials someone else designed. For example, you cannot DIY a cable using the geometry found in Shunyata Research’s higher end power cables. Their cables use two completely different formats in the positive/negative conductors. One conductor is a standard, straight silver bundle...but...the 2nd conductor is a thick, concentric circular stack of braided/meshed copper that surrounds the silver conductor. Like a tube. There are various Teflon dielectrics and other materials used to separate and shield. There is just no way to purchase these parts and make it. You’d have to buy Teflon coated silver and then braid the copper yourself and stack it. No one has that kind of time.

Where it concerns filters, you’d need to understand the mathematical formulas used to measure the electric flow of the cable you made, based on how well it conducts and how long it is. Then you’d need to attach a filter that was created to specifically affect those measurements. That’s hard to do on one’s own. You can use pre-fabricated components, but you certainly aren’t going to forge your own Ferrite cores. So you have to hope someone already makes a filter that affects the specific electric measurements of your cable.

"How does one ascertain value of any cable for their particular system from this chaos?"

I start with materials. Having spent 30 years buying various cables to use on various systems, I have narrowed down what materials work best and what their function on sound is. If you want a warmer sound with rolled off high frequencies, go with copper cable that uses Polyethylene (PE) as a dielectric. If you want ultimate levels of clarity and clinical accuracy, get silver conductors that use Teflon or Flurocarbon as a dielectric. Beyond materials, it’s geometry, filters, and active systems.

It’s not unlike modifying a car for speed. You can buy a Lamborghini, which was designed for speed and looks beautiful. You needn’t do anything else. OR, you can buy a cheap stock car and modify it with Stage 6 turbo, cam shafts, short gears, direct fuel injectors, cold air intakes, body kits, NOS kits, and various other mods to make that car go as fast if not faster than the Lamborghini. Some like the challenge of modifying a slower car, others prefer the status of owning an Italian sports car.

To each their own. Discussion is perfectly fine. Belittlement and shaming is not.

@guakus Wow, I'm shaming and belittling, I think not. Nothing i stated in post was an objective pronouncement on worthlessness of commercial cables! I simply stated my own experience with cables and my present view.

 

Also, when I speak of diy I'm' not talking about building a forge, drawing machines, dielectric production, diy in cable making means assembling various commercially available components with recipes or designs other's freely distribute. Many in the community have discovered wonderful cables using this method, doesn't mean commercial products objectively inferior. Fact is I continue to use commercial cables alongside diy. And there is a wide variety of raw wire and insulated wire, connectors, all cable building supplies at various price points.

@sns 

No one directly accused you of shaming and belittlement. I made a statement that having a discussion about cables is perfectly fine but belittlement and shaming isn't.  It wasn't aimed at you, or I would have said so.  However, there have been plenty on this thread that have.

@guakus Got it. Par for the course with cable threads, reason I mentioned finding them rather worthless. I have no problem with anything you've said.

"You get what you pay for" in high-end audio is more of a joke than a truism.

Do you really, honestly think that a $300,000 amplifier blows away a similarly specced’ $20,000 amplifier? Wrong.

Does a $5,000 cable sound better than a $500 cable? Nope.

There are differences in the sonic character of different products and it is equally wrong to think that all amps, cables, preamps, etc., all sound the same. They don’t. But in this hobby people are snookered by the completely phony adage that spending more gets you more.

Who would spend say, $300,000 on a turntable and not want to believe that it is flat out superior to a $30,000 turntable? Or that a $20,000 phono cartridge blows away a $2,500 cartridge?

It’s all confirmation bias. And in many cases, it’s just ego.

Think of most of this stupid-money pricing as you would about fine jewelry. It may look cool, but most of it is worth what the parts are worth and the rest is just bling. Unless it’s collectible, then the collectibles market for that type of stuff determines what it's worth. No better than or worse than.

Do you think that the most expense collectible vinyl records cost what they do because the music is better or the recording quality is better? Nah.

This hobby is so full of BS that is sometimes boggles the mind.

In the case of cables, the really expensive ones, their price has nothing to do with the parts cost or the R&D (lol) cost. The profit margins on these price-bloated items are truly, truly obscene. Why? Market positioning and marketing and YOUR bias.

Now don’t get me wrong, some products cost far more to build than others. Speakers for example. But even a $1000 speaker can sound as good as or better than a $5000 speaker.

It’s just the way this crazy hobby works. It is what it is, but more money equaling more sound quality, FOR SURE, ain’t what it is.

Where things get the craziest in in the aspirational gear-- priced to create an exclusive club of owners, and hopefully, made to last a lifetime and designed to be be (in the eyes of the beholder) beautiful-- like a Ferrari.

Stuff’s worth whatever people will pay for it, but it is not necessarily better because of it.