We frequently see high-end systems undermatched by modest speaker cable and interconnects, resulting in extremely compromised sound compared with what could be achieved for a relatively small additional expense.
Scepticism about the performance of speaker cable and interconnects is commonplace. It is arguably the least glamourous part of any hi-fi, and the temptation to cut costs after choosing the main components is understandable.
The main job of speaker cable is to preserve the signal path from the power amplifier to the speakers. Similarly, the function of the interconnect is to link the individual parts of the hi-fi without signal loss or sound colouration. Cheaper, less advanced cable will suffer from significant signal degradation, and the longer the run of cable the more pronounced this impact will have. A hi-fi system is truly symbiotic, and any system is only as strong as its weakest link. Having an outstanding source, amplifier and speakers is essential, but the sound quality will resemble that of a low-end system without appropriately matched cable. Whilst you cannot make a bad source sound good, without suitable cables you can absolutely make a good source sound bad.
Whilst there have been significant advances in technology in all areas of hi-fi over the past 50 years, perhaps the biggest leaps have been made in the areas of speaker cables and interconnects. Materials, manufacturing, and research and development methods have all advanced dramatically, resulting in contemporary cables that massively outperform vintage ones, often at a lower relative cost than a high-end cable from yesteryear. The performance of speaker cable will also degrade over time, as the silver or copper will gradually oxidise and become less conductive.
We recommend spending approximately 10% of the cost of the hi-fi component on cables, so if your speakers cost £5,000, it would be worth spending around £500 on speaker cable. As with any hi-fi element, different cables provide different tonal properties, providing a further opportunity to fine tune a system to your personal taste.
We are particularly fond of the Tellurium Q speaker cables, Chord Company analogue interconnects and AudioQuest digital cables. For example, a 3-metre pair of terminated Tellurium Black II retails at £339, a 1 metre Chord Clearway RCA pair is £125, and Audioquest Cinnamon digital coaxial £89.
Our engineering team can cut and terminate Chord Company speaker cable on site for the perfect fit. If you have not replaced your cables for a while, or simply suspect your current ones are not doing your system justice, we will gladly demonstrate just how startling a difference they can make.