High-quality audio and power cables make a big difference

Auto & Audio August 13, 2017 01:00

By Kingsley Wijayasinha

3,121 Viewed

Apart from the main components of the system such as CD players, amplifiers and loudspeakers, accessories can also affect the sound quality of your audio system.

There is a wide range of audio upgrades that have become popular, including using high-quality audio cables and even power cables. While prices range from cheap to super high, many of these products have been labelled as "snake oil". Some respectable audio critics admit that cables can help improve or adjust the sound of a system but are against spending large sums. About 10 per cent of the cost of the system should be okay.

Presently, I am using a set of Nordost Flatline Blue Heaven RCA interconnects and speaker cables that I bought ages ago (this is vintage stuff). The speaker is a 4-metre pair with banana jacks, but sections have been damaged after a puppy was left in the audio room one night.

So I had to cut the cables, removing the damaged parts and used the good part, which means I have some leftover speaker cables in the drawer.

It was there for years until last week, when I finally decided to get down on some DIY project with these cables.

The Mirage M5 speakers in the system have bi-wire terminals, and the low and high inputs are connected via Nordost Baldur jumpers that I purchased online for about Bt2,000. They are quite small, and I have always wondered whether I would get better results if I used the Blue Heaven jumpers instead.

Cutting up Flatline Cables is much easier than a normal cable, a scissor will do. But the problem is that it is very difficult to remove the insulation at each end in order to see the tiny bare copper wires coated in silver.

I believe Nordost (and other flat cable manufacturers) have the special wire-cutting equipment and you will normally get their products factory-terminated. I found out previously that it was a hell of a job, and was prepared to spend hours of patience and endure damaged eyesight.

After two days it was over and after replacing the Baldur jumpers with the Blue Heavens, there was better speed, detail and presence. Now I had to start listening to all my favourite albums again as the detail improvement was amazing. So remember, if your speakers have bi-wire terminals and you're running a single wire setup, try experimenting with new jumpers.

Another easy DIY project that you can enjoy making at home is power cables. Audio-grade connectors (try Hubbell, Furutech or Wattgate) can dramatically improve the sound quality (and picture quality for AV) and in most cases, you don't need soldering, which makes the life for non-electricians a lot easier. You can also make multi-receptacle extension cables using the same principle.

Throw away that cheap extension cables and make build own, using high-quality cables and equipment. Everything can be ordered online individually, or you can have them assembled beforehand.

Even the power inlets on the audio component can be upgraded easily but is not recommended unless really necessary since it often includes cutting the rear panel as well as requiring soldering (but there are screw-type inlets as well).

I've experimented a lot and I say it's fun. But don't expect success every time. First, it is important to determine what your system needs, and pick the right upgrade equipment. Each brand and model sound different, so if you're into it, you'll be spending much time experimenting like me.