Which cable has most impact - IC, Spkr., power?

Curious as to what people think is the most critical cable in a system, i.e. the one that has the most impact on the overall sound. Is it interconnects, speaker cables, digital, power cables? Of course there's synergy and everything matters, but which cable makes its presence known the most?
This is a common topic in these forums, and one with no absolute answer. You may want to search the archives.

Alright, I give it a shot......
Each individual cable in 3 groups (IC, Spkr Cable, and P/C) has a unique character, but yet, they still stay within their own group.
A little confused? The closest way to explain myself out of this one is to allow me to exaggerate it a little. But it is, some what, still equivalent and related to my examples. Let’s imagine your:

1/ IC is your source (CD, DVD, Turnable, etc).
2/ Power cord is your listening room.
3/ Speaker cable is your set of speaker.

1/ Changing your IC is almost equivalent to changing your CDP from England’s sound (Rega, Arcam) to, say, Japanese’s /American’s sound (Krell, Denon, Marantz.). Remember, I exaggerated. So, if you take your CDP to your fiend's and play it with his speakers, the character of your CDP will still recognizable.

2/ Changing your power cord is like reshaping your entire listening room, adding /removing acoustic foam, windows, doors, etc. Though, the character of your source is still there but a P/C can shift your entire system sounds like you put your whole system in a diff room. Again, I exaggerated.

3/ Changing ur speaker cables is more like moving your set of speaker around within a room or re toe-ing, tilting, etc. to get a better soundstage, tonal, dynamic, disappearance, and clarity. Yet, the character of your CDP and the room's acoustic remains unchange.

In my past experience with cables of all 3 groups, the IC resulted in changing character of MY SYSTEM the most. But since we all have diff electronics and experience with diff name brands cables, I’m most definitely sure that we all will get diff results.

Phew, this is harder to describe than I thought, but I hope you get the picture.

Keep us posted.
The best results will be to find the right cable between the pre-amp and the amp and the right wire between the amp and the speakers. Why? Because no matter which source you select, the signal will travel over this path. Next, find the right cable from your most frequently used to least frequently used source. Oh, and make sure your system is properly grounded: it's far more important that which cable or wire you use. See my system page for more information on grounding.

Finally, don't spend too much money on cables and wires as system components are far more important to the sound of your system. Cables and wire are like seasonings - they can enhance a meal, but never be the meal.
answer this question yourself. try listening to a bunch of interconnects and observe the differences. do the same with speaker cables and power cords.

there is no definitive answer, but you can empirically determine the affects using your own stereo system as the laboratory.

do you have a hypothesis ?

by the way, many questions posed in threads can be answered by the originator of the thread. it is usually not necessary to rely on the opinions of others, when you can do your own research. there are many manufactures and other resources who can help, in lieu of relying on the unknown credentials of audiogon members.
I will suggest your power cords. Digital unit 1st, then the pre, finally the amp. Starting out with the least possible distortion will give you the best bang for your investment in my experience.
I agree with Nasaman....my experince the power cord`s and ic`s made the most difference. I usually keep my balanced interconnects between the amp and preamp and speaker cables the same. Changing the power cords and ic`s on my sacd/cd player gives the system a whole new character. Changing the amp power cord and TT ic`s have the same results.
I feel that interconnects are most critical, closely followed by speaker cables. Power cables are the least critical in my systems but I always start with a 20a dedicated circuit - sometimes multiple 20a dedicated circuits.

my 2 cents

happy listening!
...like I said, nowhere!

My experience is that everyone's components react differently to cabling, as is everyone's power quality. Never has YMMV been more true.

For me Power Cords make the biggest improvement
with my Krell gear. I am suspecting that high dollar
powercords filter noise out of the A/C without suppressing
the current flow (like those nasty monstercable power
conditioners). But no matter the reason all I can say
is power cords can transform a system more so than
anything else in my experience.
Is there a consensus yet? Good, I'm not too late.
For me it's speaker cable. The only times I hear a difference that I truly believe is there is when making changes to speaker cables.
With ICs there has never been a noticeable change. I have tried some pretty spicy cables so maybe my sonic taste buds aren't sensitive enough.
Same with power cables. No change. I'm thinking either my equipment does it's own filtering, as any properly designed piece should, or my AC is clean. I know the AC is clean so probably a combination of many factors including a healthy dose of skepticism.
As the thread originator.....I'm still searching for an answer. My brain tells me it should be IC's connected to source components. The old theory that if you don't get the information at the beginning of the chain, everything downstream suffers. Lately I've been changing a lot of cables in and out of my system and my preconceptions (and this theory) are not holding up. What's having the most discernable impact is speaker cables, by a wide margin, followed by IC's (source and amp/pre about equal) with power cables bringing up the rear. Maybe this question is so system dependent that there is no definitive right answer, but it seems to me there should be.
Definitely depends on the compatability of the equipment/cable link and the synergy between all of the equipment and cables. If you cannot establish a synergy between all of the cables, you will be changing cables frequently. Some people decide to change the equipment instead. I would focus on upgrading your speaker cables and build around them. If you build around the interconnects, it can be a lot more expensive to constantly be changing speaker cables. For me, speaker cables made the biggest noticeable change, which I feel also reduces the amount of noticeable change derived from the interconnects and power cables.

You are making the mistake of attributing properties to ordinary wires. It is the quality of AC power and the choice of components which determine whether a cable will make either a large or negligible difference.

Think about it;
Poorly designed power supply => Power cord makes a difference
Extremely Dirty AC power => Power cord makes a difference
Poorly matched impedances between components => IC's make a difference
Ground Loops due to poor grounding or leaky power supplies => IC's make a difference
Speaker load extremely low impedance and highly reactive => Speaker cable makes a difference
Amplifier Output Impedance extremely high => Speaker cable makes a difference.
Unstable Power Amplifier => Speaker cable makes a difference
Underpowered poorly designed outputs stage of the Preamp => Interconnect cable and length can make a difference
Jittery Digital signal poor jitter handling/rejection => Digital Interconnect and length makes a difference

If you follow the logic you will understand that any cable anywhere in your system can make a difference but it isn't a specific property to the bits of wire but really has much more to do with the setup and components themselves.

So exactly the same cable/power cord/IC can make no difference in one system and a huge difference in another...
04-04-09: Jmcgrogan2
This is a common topic in these forums, and one with no absolute answer.

04-06-09: Joc3021
As the thread originator.....I'm still searching for an answer. Maybe this question is so system dependent that there is no definitive right answer, but it seems to me there should be.

I hate to say I told you so.......but I told you so. As in almost all audio related questions, there is no definitive answer. Probably because this whole hobby is so subjective.
If you're looking for definitive answers, you're in the wrong hobby. Don't bother with wine's, scotch's, or food either, as they also are all personal tastes related.

Try astronomy or physics as a hobby....you'll find more definitive answers.

I would think IC to source equipment would make the most differace BUT not if all your other cables were of low quality. Then I would think any one of them.
My last thought on this because it probably is one of those questions where there really is no definitive "answer." Shadorne's post makes a lot of sense to me and I have long been aware of all the pitfalls he cites and how they can impact on a cable's performance and "sound." However, in a system that doesn't suffer from any of the deficiencies he lists (I don't think mine does) it still seems to me that there should be a rule of thumb on which cable is most impactful in terms of asserting its "sound" in the overall context of a system. Oh well, another forever open question...
Ok, everyone is right.....
Remember..Your system is only as good as your weakest link !!!!
They are all important, ic's, power, & speaker c's. Don't
let anyone tell you your cables don't make a difference because they do.
Yes, many different flavors & prices. Find the ones that work well to your tastes & your system. If you feel ic's to start, go from there. I feel the synergy is important.
I think, the Amp-Speaker wire has to do a job for 2 tasks:
To deliver current and to handle the feedback from the chassis.
All other cables do the transport in 1 direction only.
Probably one reason why most experiiences agree with Speaker cable.
I would say speaker wire, I consider it almost a component in itself. Enormously important link in my opinion.
Shandorne's post makes a lot of sense but I have to agree with Joe also. Even assuming that one has the finest AC power and the perfectly constructed component, one would sense that one cable has a greater influence on sound than another cable. I am not an engineer, but are we saying that when one adds speaker cables, power cables or IC's to perfectly clean AC power and a perfectly built component, that their is no noticeable sonic change? If this is the case, than I have to believe that no component has ever or will be properly designed and perfect AC power does not exist. Since we haven't reached that point of perfection, It doesn't leave much choice but to pursue the pefection in another way. I suspect we are all going to be fussing with our cables and equipment for many moons to come.

To me it is pretty simple, the speaker cables are the most important, and subject to most interference, second is the interconnects, then last the power cable. 

now, if you were not using balanced ICs, maybe there is a more equal split between speaker cables and ICs.