Narrowed to 3: 802D3, Sopra 3, Reference 3

Hi all,
Here's the situation:
Room is 14x17 with vaulted ceilings from 9" to 14", and the room is mostly open to a foyer with high ceiling and is about 10x10.

I'm currently running a setup scavenged from my home theater:
Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > Rotel RC-1590 Preamp > Rotel RB-1582 mk2 amp > B&W 805 D3

The sound overall is excellent, but it's a little bright and lacks bass presence (as you'd expect for a 2 way bookshelf). Here are my top speakers I've auditioned:

B&W 802D3 ( Auditioned with: Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > McIntosh C52 > McIntosh 601) at Magnolia

KEF Reference 5 (Auditioned with Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > McIntosh C47 > McIntosh MC452) at Magnolia at the same time as the 802.

Focal Sopra 3 (Auditioned with NAIM DAC > NAIM NAP 500 DR Amp - 140W per channel) at difference location

I also heard the KEF Reference 3 and Blade but ruled them out, the Ref 3 for sound, and the Blade for price and it being kind of ugly.

Here's the thing, I feel like I'm not sure what to get. I love the general sound of the 802, but I'm afraid even with the MC452 it'd be a bit bright. It also really lacked the presence in the bass like the Reference 5.

The Reference 5 sounds wonderful, and the bass is prolific, but I'm a little concerned about it being too warm. I heard the Ref 5 and 802s in the same room with virtually the same equipment, back to back, and they were so very different. The Ref 5 was warm, with rich full mids, that maybe were even too lush, with bass so good I honestly thought the subwoofer was on.

The 802 had good bass, but nothing to write home about (and it even had the more powerful 601 monoblocks), but the clarity was astounding, I just fear it'll be a little too bright for my room, which seems to lean bright already. That said, there is just something so exciting about the sound of this speaker playing orchestral. The problem was I much preferred the KEF for rock/r&b.

Then, to add to the mix, I liked the Focal Sopra 3 a lot, but I also felt it lacked bass presence, though it was on the weakest amp by a wide margin. The Focal seemed to be the middle ground between the B&W and KEF, but the bass concerned me. I'm not a bass nut, but I do want my bass to be powerful and don't want to have to add a sub. (Even for orchestral, I felt the Focal lacked a bit in the low cello and bass parts)

My plan was to keep the Mytek, and probably get a McIntosh C47 and MC452 or MC462, as I think the Rotels are probably too bright and underpowered for any of these setups. I was definitely hitting 300+W on the 802s during my audition while listening to orchestral music.

Thoughts? Is the KEF really that pudgy in the middle, is the B&W really that bright, and does the Sopra 3 really lack bass presence?

p.s. I thought the Blade was better balanced, but also still pretty warm.

Ag insider logo xs@2xmayoradamwest
Mayoradamwest, We are major KEF dealers and we display the entire Kef Range, the KEF's are wonderful speakers, we don't feel that they are too warm, most people find them quite detailed with a huge panormamic soundstage.

As per the KEF vs the B&W the B&W are way forward with the Diamond tweeter being a bit on the hot side for many people, your comments on their clarity with the top end being a bit too hot is quite common.

You need to hear the Kef's at a better dealer than Magnolia, we have visited the Magnolia design centers and most of the store's setups are not good.  Magnolia doens't play with different combination of cables or source components,  they don't know anything about upsampling and how to maximize streaming setups, and they really don't know how to derive the maximium sound quality out of these higher end products. 

If you are on the East Coast come over to our shop and hear what a well setup pair of Kef Ref 5 sound like.

The Sopra's are also very musical, they don't punch as hard as the Kef's but the new Sopras are very very good. If you crave detail, speed, punch and a huge well focused soundstage the KEF's are hard to beat.

If you like a silky smooth tweeter, good detail, a rich midrange, but less dynamic presentation you should hear the Sopras again.

Dave and Troy
Audio Docdtor NJ
Completely agree with Audiotroy about sopras vs kef vs B&w.

As far as bass lacking with Sopra 3, it had to be the room, or the placement of the speakers in said room. I will admit some of the Focal speakers with bigger 8+ inch woofers can be hard to place in a room. They don’t just sound perfect with little work, but once you get them properly placed in the room, the bass will be tremendous.

In all reality, most speakers have pretty good bass now — its just making sure you get them in the right spot, and in some rooms, it’s impsosible to get the best soundstage and three dimensionality PLUS perfect bass response.  
Thanks both of you. My inclination at this point is the 802s. Overall I love the sound of the 805D3 and they’re not overly bright in my home theater which has room treatments. My main concern about them is whether I’d be underwhelmed by the bass. 
I am not a big fan of any of the brands you mentioned and my recommendation is to look elsewhere into more serious brands like Bryston ,Spendor,ATC or Proac.
Izhak what are you talking about. 

Kef, B&W, and Focal are 3 of the most prestigous and advanced loudspeakers manufacturers on Earth.

ATC, and Spendor make  very good speakers with their own drivers Bryston speakers are made by Aperion and they are okay and Proac are certainly good speakers but class leading they are not.

These 3 companies produce some of the best models in their respective price points.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Thanks @audiotroy I agree. For the record I did listen to a lot more speakers than I listed. Proac, Magico, Harbeth, etc. There is just something magical about the B&W and classical music. I liked the Focal and seemingly a bit more balanced, but the KEF was a wild card. Loved the sound of the Full size blade, but hate he look. 

@audiotroy would love to visit the shop as I’m from NJ but currently live in San Jose CA. Appreciate the feedback!
(((Proac are certainly good speakers but class leading they are not.
Troydave leaky?
 Seriously, why speak negatively and self-serving?
 World Class Proac and Bowers Wilkins both have great bass,
 owned by many music lovers.
  I have sold many of the folks that have visited your home with world-class Proacs D48 Rs so good even a caveman can do it.
The guy likes 802s.
  Cant you let him enjoy his questions without peeing confusion in his sandbox.
 Best JohnnyR
Hmm, that escalated quickly. I do like the Proacs, I just liked the other 3 more for the music I listen to. I heard the Sonus Faber Serafino in the same room with the same setup as the Sopra 3, and the Sopra was a clear winner to my ear. Anyway, I was just curious about feedback between these 3 for anyone who has compared them. I’m guessing there are some other things like cables that could help smooth out the diamond tweeters on the B&W. 
I suggest, since you like the KEF's, to try listening to Tannoys. Like the KEFs, they are Dual-Concentric, will image very well, and have great bass. Check and see what they have to offer in their current lineup.

Seriously, why speak negatively and self-serving?
Because KEF, B&W and Focals provide higher margins to audiotroy?
Milipai almost every company offers the same margins and we dont sell B&W nor Focal. Not huge B&W fans as the Diamond tweeter is a little too much for us. We love the Focals but we dont need the line as we have the Paradigm Persona line.

Lets face facts Proac was a player in the 90s same as Audio Physic both make good speakers but are hardly the go to lines they were 20 year ago.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ 

I believe audiotroy only carries the KEF line of speakers listed on this thread. He also said good things about B&W and Focal here. Though those comments seem rather obvious to people who know a bit about these Euro audio companies.

I have heard Brystons and Spendor and they are nowhere in the class (for me) of the KEF, Focal, and B&W.
One of the downsides of audiogon forums is the hint of snobbery with a lot of people such that it can be tough to tell who's not that way. That said, based on @audiotroy posts in many other threads, I do trust his opinion. I assumed I would get even more flack from people about my choice of McIntosh SS. I know in many other threads people call it mid-fi as an insult, but honestly all the pro reviews are excellent and every time I've heard them vs other more boutique brands (at a much higher price) I felt like they held their own. That said, I do wonder if I should find a way to test out a tube pre-amp with the B&W. My concern was losing resolution for big orchestral works.
@audiotroy , @yyzsantabarbara,Very surprisingly I took 2 years to look for the right loudspeakers for me. Listened to tons of speakers discussed here and ended up with ProAcs. And I did multiple audition of these loudspeakers to make sure that I make the right choice. You can say that that your preference is not ProAc.
So I can smell BS when you knock ProAcs.
@mayoradamwest,If you narrowed it down to the 3 speakers you listed, I suggest that you go and listen to these speakers, instead of getting opinions. Loudspeakers are the most critical components in an audio chain. Make sure that you pair the correct ancillaries  with the KEF and Focals. Both are very good loudspeakers, but might sound bright or analytical, if not paired properly.

@milpai agreed. I am listening to the KEF and B&W again this week on the same equipment I’d be using. I am also wondering if some of the brightness I hear is the Mytek. I have a Violectric V800 DAC, and call me crazy but it seems like it sounds fuller and less harsh on the top with my 805D3s. Seems worth another thread. Tough to audition DACs. 
@ mayoradamwest, I had auditioned the B&W 805 and 804 D3 series with the PSB Imagine T3s. They sounded bright - only when I compared the treble to the T3. I did not compare them to any other loudspeakers I auditioned. Do you think you would have a chance to demo the Paradigm Persona 5F? I listened to the 3F and in a super less than ideal environment they sounded really really good. There was a huge glass window behind them and the room was not treated. Yet they sounded coherent and not diffused. That really amazed me. You should really audition this loudspeaker if you feel that your 805Ds are bright.
Milipai, we are glad you love your Proacs, they are very nice speakers, our point was that the Proac is not the most popular line of loudspeakers these days if you noticed we did not knock their sound quality. 

We choose our loudspeaker lines based on their  sound quality, value, technology, and sonic attributes as well as their position in the market.

A pair of Legacy Signatures at $7k can easily compare to a Proac D48R which is a $12k set of loudspeakers with even deeper lower bass and greater efficiency. 

The Pardigm Persona's use the most advanced drivers on the market today, with a pure Beryillium midrange driver which is unhead of at these price points, plus a pure Beryillium tweeter.

The Kef Reference line do so many things well, with one of the largest soundstages for a speaker of this size, they are very dynamic and have very deep bass for the size of the speakers, the Kef Ref 5 in particular are amazing sounding and do not dominate a room the way many otherr reference loudspeakers do. 

We are also Mytek dealers, the Brooklyn dac is excellent it does not have a particularly warm sound it is not bright either, it is a neutral dac, if you want warm and musical listen to an Aqua Hifi Lavoice,

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
If I were going to invest that much... the only speakers I would consider would be the Legacy Audio Aeris (nothing else compares).  

But... of those... only the Sopra 3.
@bassdude I can appreciate that. We’ve all got different tastes. I’m sitting here right now listening to my 805s on Rotel equipment and love it. Also, aesthetics matter to me and the Legacy Audio speakers just aren’t my cup of tea. 
Thoughts? Is the KEF really that pudgy in the middle, is the B&W really that bright, and does the Sopra 3 really lack bass presence?

If you take a system level approach these questions fade away and become irrelevant.

Build around what you want to achieve and not the component.
Speakers are very subjective so you will know the right sound when you hear it!  I don’t know how many times I thought I had the “best” to only find something better....for me. If you think they sound too bright... they are (for you)! What drives me nutz is when you go to audition speakers and the dealer feels necessary to crank them up like you were sitting in the front row of a Led Zep concert! 
I'd suggest to also listen to Dynaudio Confidence line.  You'll get both smoothness in the high as well as the bass.

@mayoradamwest… you are so right... any such discussion should begin with the criteria one values most in their sound reproduction.

For me… that is… the utmost in transparency, detail resolution, clarity, soundstage, imaging, and the tone, tenor, texture and timbre of instruments (especially bass texture and resolution), all in which the Legacy Audio Aeris is unmatched – they make a double bass, cello, or piano sound live / real.  Though, the Focal 3 certainly comes close, as do the higher end Magico’s, Tannoy’s, Gamuts, and ATC professional monitors.  

Other factors, including aesthetics, are of secondary consideration for me.  Moreover, I value the capability of the Aeris to correct for the idiosyncrasies of the room.  

For others, these attributes may make them sound a bit strident on occasion - they may value a smoother, less resolved sound. The same is true for the Sopra 3, or the Magicos – they may seem too strident at times (too transparent).

As you say… “to each his own.”

I have the 802d3... one of the best transducers at that price point if you mate it well with components and room.

I also own the Focal kanta 2 and the sonus Faber olympica 3 so I am well versed with different House sounds.

For me, it goes BW then Focal then SF.

But I can see where the Sopra 3 can beat out the 802d3 in some settings.
Thanks @joey_v that’s exactly the sort of feedback I was looking for. I heard the Kantas along with the Sopra. Very good sounding for the price. If you mind me asking, which components did you pair with the 802s? Cables?
At this time, I have Rotels on the Focal Kanta 2 and the Sonus Faber Olympica 3.

The BW 802D3 is in the big rig.

DAC: Emm Labs TSDx transport + Emm Labs DAC2x dac
Preamp: Cary Audio Tube SLP-05
Amp: Boulder 2060 Stereo Class A Amplifier
Interconnects: XLR (standard cabling, yes I need to upgrade but budget budget budget!)
Power System: Torus RM15 Distributor
Power Cords: Audioquest NRG-WEL x 4
Speaker Wire: Audioquest WEL 8ft Single-Biwire

Dedicated room, nearly fully treated (66% done with the room, need maybe 2 more shipments from GIK to complete, need more diffusors and bass traps).

People say that you have to hear XYZ speaker in all its glory with the best upstreams, I think I read that in one of the posts above regarding the KEFs.

Well, you have to also keep in mind that the demo for the 802D3 is subpar... wait until you hear it in the best and most tweaked upstreams. I have had several big time speakers come by, and I still kept with the 802D3.

I have had Sonus Faber Stradivari and Rockport Aviors in my room.

BTW, if you have the room, the 800D3 is a more complete version of the 802D3.... I had the 800D3 in my room also, but I traded down to the 802D3 after having it for a couple months just because the bass was a little much.  I believe you need a room that is atleast 21 feet deep for the 800D3, whereas you can get away with an 18ft room with the 802D3.  Those last 3 feet make a difference. 
I have the Ref 5 and can say that they are detailed and throw a wide and precise image. The bass is fast and they go deeper than you think they should. I did compare them with the B&Ws and the Ref 5 was a step above to my ears.
I have my 802D3's in a 17x26 room and they are enthralling.  I have never been disappointed with their clarity or bass.  I recently added a PS Audio P10 AC regenerator and it only further enhanced my musical experience particularly with classical music. 

Stay with B&W in my opinion. 

Happy listening. 

A pair of Legacy Signatures at $7k can easily compare to a Proac D48R which is a $12k set of loudspeakers with even deeper lower bass and greater efficiency.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion :-)
As a side bar to this discussion:
Solid gold decisions are tough to make and i appreciate "the angst" that goes into decisions such as these as well as anyone else.
Just yesterday i painted my listening room and will soon order sound panels (Acoustimac) as the next step in raising the acoustics.. New-er speakers ( and amp) are on the horizon as well but i will at least will have a "new nursery" awaiting any new pieces be it speakers or amps. ( Get it-raising acoustics-nursery)... 
Solid gold decisions are tough to make and i appreciate "the angst" that goes into decisions such as these as well as anyone else.

This guy gets it :-)

While I love reading about people with huge budgets, amps that cost more than the speakers, or even cables that cost more than the speakers, that's not what I want. I love music, and I want to set this system up right, but I'd love to set it and forget it for at least 10 years. I'd rather lease another car than spend 30k on cables. For this setup (802+McIntosh), I was looking at finding used Kimber cables at reasonable prices. All in, I suspect this setup will run me a little less than 40k (half of which is the speakers). 

Again, thanks everyone for input. At least for me, right now, it's a pretty big financial commitment, so I want to make sure I wasn't overlooking something obvious. To be honest, I could probably just listen to my 805+Rotel+sub setup for 10 years and still be pretty happy.
I think control the room, and you will be happy with the 802d3.

Heck I think any of those 3 and you’re still beyond 99% of the population.

Re my system, it was built for the sole purpose of pushing whatever speaker I had beyond reasonable limits, it’s not typical.  Because I bought smart, my total cost is approx 60 for all not including room.
I agree with jimmydd. When you hear the right speaker you will know it. You know what you're accustomed to. It's happened to me only 3 times. Don't be in a hurry with that type of investment. The last time I wasn't even considering new speaker. But why I bought them is because after hearing them I couldn't get that sound out of my head for months.
If not that much trouble bring your pre/amp/cables with you for a demo. That way you'll know if the electronics are right for the speakers.
Best of luck
The 802D3’s have amazing bass.  Don’t blame the speakers if your not hearing it in a demo.
Thanks, all! I used Gik Acoustics for my home theater and was happy with the customer service. That said, I think, to my ear, the room is a bit over-dampened. Also, I wasn't thrilled with the quality of the materials, as the panels seem to be covered in a pretty cheap cloth. In the room for the 802s, it has a beautiful sound, but probably needs a light touch of treatment. I don’t want to ruin the aesthetics of the room, however, as it’s a centerpiece room (my drinking room) of the house, done in a mid-century modern style.
@joey_v thanks. You're setup looks amazing, and I'm surprised you did it for 60! Is that mostly buying used? I am debating how much to invest in cabling and power. It seems like there are mixed results on power conditioners (even the PS Audio ones), which make me think I should focus on power cables and ICs. It looks like I can get some nice Kimber or Cardas ones for around 500 each used on audiogon. Thoughts? Which made the biggest different feeding your 802s?
If you want warm Kubala Sosna cables are very warm and liquid particularly the Emotion range. If you are using Mcintosh with B&W and the system sounds bright than you have a very live room and have to address that.

Our golden rule on cabling is that cabling should be 30% of a systems overall budget. So if you are using $10k amp and preamp you should be looking at $1,500-3,000k for your inteconnects and $2-3k for your speaker cabling.

Older Cardas Cables are very congested sounding, the Hexlink 5C and Quadlink are not the last word in openess. 

We are firm believers in power conditoning, active units have way more issues than passive units, we have tested many PS Audio units and don' t like them at all, give us an Isotek, or Audio Magic any day of the week. 

Personally with all three of these very high end loudspeakers we would love to see you upgrade to even better components than the Rotel gear whiich is good but not as refined as the much more expensive stuff. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

Hello MAW,

I agree with audiotroy, I had issues with PS Audio P5, though I did not experiment with the P10 or the newest P20, maybe those are different. However, I felt that they compressed the overall feel of the sound, enough that even though I only plugged in the ancillary upstreams, it was eeough that I sold it.

The Torus RM15 is a different beast. Much better than the PSA P5, I had them both at the same time in my room. I did not plug the amp/Boulder 2060 into either on a regular basis.

I did try the Boulder into the Torus the other day, mostly because it was raining and lightning around my area, I noticed a loss of definition as well.

So, I would suggest:
1. Power conditioning is important, mostly for non-amplifier upstreams.
2. Power cords are important, the most important I noted was gauge of wiring. I use all WEL NRG which are silver, I am not sure if the silver improves on a copper wire.... I do have the NRG10, I should try them out against each other some day.
3. Wires are important, I am sure when I upgrade my XLR to the AQ Fire, I will experience some benefit, however, definitely the speaker wire is a good way to improve the system sound, I adore my AQ WEL, I am sure they will come out with something better at AQ, but I’m not spending $30,000 on an 8ft pair for a minute improvement.

Re my system cost, yes, most was acquired used. The speakers were brand new however from my local dealer.

Break down of cost was:
Approx 19 for the Bowers.
Approx 18 for the Boulder
Approx 10 for the Emm digital front end dac and transport 2 box unit/stack
Approx 4 for the preamp
Approx 1.5 for the Torus RM15 power unit
Approx 5K for the speaker cables
And I got the 4x 1m NRG WEL for free (long story)

I think that breakdown of pricing is fair for the speakers. Approx 20% for the cabling is a fair budget. And an amp that is about the cost of the speakers or less is fair. DAC does a tremendous difference, maybe 20+% of the budget goes to that.

My next moves will likely be:
1.  Finish room treatments, need diffusors and bass traps. 
2.  AQ Fire someday
3.  Subs x2
4.  Cary SLP05 transition into Ref5se preamp
5.  Try AQ Hurricane at the power conditioner to the wall. 
@joey_v did you get the B&W at Magnolia?

@audiotroy let's chat in PM about cables. I'm interested. My setup will be as highlighted above: Mytek > McIntosh C47 > McIntosh MC452 > B&W 802D3

Our golden rule on cabling is that cabling should be 30% of a systems overall budget.

Well that rule sounds great for salesemen.  Not so sure the consumer ought to buy in to it.

Prof lets make the comparision with a sports car you going to spend $80k on a sports car and just replace the expensive stock tires with just anything and expect the system to perform?

The fact that most people in audio who have acutally demoed cables will agree with premise that cables will make a rather audible difference in the performance of a system. 

We have purchased our demo cables at a very ridiculous amount of money, if we couldn't hear the difference do you think we would have shelled out the money ourselves?

The fact that sometimes changing one cable in a system can make the sound pop to life is proof that cables can be a huge part of getting a system to sound right. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
The Doctor is correct! My recommendation would be to call Joe Abrams at Equus Audio/Portal Audio and discuss your system and budget.  He is an audio industry veteran who will give you sage advice for free.  He also has huge discounts on MIT cables which are extremely musical and involving to listen through.
@audiotroy I've agreed with all your other feedback, but the analogy with cars I'm not so sure... I just happen to be somewhat of a subject matter expert in sports cars. The reality is that for ~99.99% of sports car buyers, they will buy a car and will be set. It's not a matter of buying expensive tires, so much as they come with expensive tires and you should always just replace them with the same thing. 

The audio world is different. You can't just buy speakers. They obviously won't play sound by themselves. It's more akin to the speakers being the chassis or body of the car, and the electronics being the engine. Perhaps the cables are the suspension. I could have an amazing chassis and engine, but if I put on shocks from an '88 Buick, the car is probably going to feel pretty shitty.

As an update, I heard the Ref 5 and 802s again last night on the exact setup that I wanted Mytek > C47 > MC452, and it was an easy decision. The Ref 5 sound good, and have an epic mid and low end, but there was just something a little unnatural about the sound for me. The 802s were really just spectacular. I ordered them in white, along with the 452 and C47. Since I was throwing around money, I also ordered AQ Water ICs, but still need speaker cable, power cables, and perhaps a power conditioner.
Mayor the analogy was when it is time to replace warn tires on an expensive high end car replacement tires are expensive, don't put on the good tires watch the car's performance suffer greatly.

The only way you know if you really like the B&W better than the Kef's or vice versa is to hear both on the same system or at least setup with electronics similar to what you are using or going to use.

The KEF's you might have actually liked better than the B&W on the correct electronics, the B&W are excellent we have heard the 802 and they didn't rock out boat but what you like is up to you. 

As mentioned before these are all fantastic state of the art contenders and with a suitably well setup system any of these loudspeakers should make you very happy.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

I’m not saying in your case that you are out to shaft people in selling cables. I see no reason to think you don’t honestly believe what you say about the performance of high end audiocables.

And I’m trying to convince you otherwise.

Your car/tires analogy only might hold if audio cables had the type of audible difference you and other audiophiles ascribe to them, which is begging the question at hand. If high end cables are changing the sound in a tone-control manner, that’s not higher fidelity, it’s choosing a way to color the sound. If they perform "better" in terms of actual fidelity, actually passing more, and more accurate information than lower priced competently made cables, then that claim seems to remain problematic.I’ve given reasons in long threads on this elsewhere so need to go in to it here.

What you offer is anecdote, and I have my own anecdotal evidence to justify why I personally wouldn’t take your "30 percent of the budget" advice. I’ve heard speakers I own hooked up to regular old belden cables, and also hooked up to $40,000 worth of Nordost (and other) cables. If there was *any* sonic difference going on, it didn’t jump out and sure as hell wouldn’t have been worth such an insane difference in price point between the cables to me.

I’m no high roller, but a rough estimate of part of the system I’ve been using at home is around $45,000 in speakers/amps/pre/turntable/dac.Yet a rough estimate I spend on my cabling (mostly belden and old kimber pbj and some other cables) is around $400. (Which is probably more than I’d spend now if I were to re-do it).

So that’s about .8 percent of my budget on my cables. Whereas if I’d spent your recommended 30 percent, I’d have laid out about $13,600 just for cables!!! I can buy amazing speakers for that amount of money!

As I’ve detailed in a long thread on this forum, I’ve been out auditioning a great many terrific, well regarded loudspeakers. And usually they have been hooked up to very expensive audiophile brand cables, power conditioners, ac cables etc. Yet, as I have expressed that thread, almost none managed to impress me as much as my own speakers - in any respect, be it detail, resolution, tonality, etc. And my poor speakers are being fed by "meager" cheap cables.

That strongly suggests to me that my audio budget - as outrageous is it is in light of your advice about cable expenditure - has been spent more wisely where it matters to me; the quality of speakers in particular far swamps any apparent contribution of expensive cabling. I’ve "saved" a tremendous amount of money that I would have had to spend if I listened to rules like the one you espouse. If I had another $13,000 to spend, I’m quite sure that sonic benefits would be much better realized by putting it into even better speakers (or room treatment) etc, vs cabling.

You have your views based on your experience. I get that. I’m just offering another view, and why I’m glad I don’t follow the type of advise you are giving.  And offering alternative viewpoints may make someone, like the OP, think a bit more before simply imbibing audiophile lore about the money they should put in to cabling.  It may be helpful, maybe not, depending on the mindset of whoever reads it.  But that's how it goes.

(That’s all I’ll write on that subject here, as it’s been covered in the cable forum anyway).


Please try replacing those $800 each Pirelli Pzereos on a Ferrari with some nice Copper glass ply, tires and see where that takes you.

Cables are one part of setting up a system and yes they can highlight certain frequencies or reveal more information. or mask informatin.

Your evidence may be valid to you and your ability to hear, or it may be that the "expensive cables" you heard were not worth the money or it may be that your system does not have the resolution required to enable you to experience these differenences or your speakers don't have the resolution required, it could be a zillion reasons.

Without hearing your set of variables we can not come up with an answer.

Most cable demos we do are very audibile and we can show through demontration how better cables dramatically improve a system. 

We did one demo where we changed one ethernet cable and the system sprang to life that cable cost $210.00 and was the only change we made.

We have changed a single USB cable and have similar differences. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

Whoops, I meant to write: "I’m NOT trying to convince you otherwise."

(Your anecdote about the a system "springing to life" after changing the Ethernet cable only adds to my skepticism about your other anecdotal experience with other cables. Having seen many debates over ethernet/digital cables, with input from electrical engineers, it seems to me the technical case made for audible differences is weaker than the one for audible differences to be extremely unlikely. But many audiophiles think *everything* makes a difference, which is precisely what can happen when one relies purely on uncontrolled, subjectivity-based anecdote. Our perception can change for various reasons, and when you always ascribe this to an outside cause,  it allows people to come up with all sorts of dubious and contradictory ideas.   It’s why the world is filled with crack-pot medical nostrums - and countless other wild claims - that have fervent believers).

This thread took an interesting turn ;-)

As I mentioned above, I ordered 2 sets of AudioQuest Water XLR interconnects. That said, my system is currently around 40k, and there is no way I would spend more than around 10% on cables, let alone 30%. I mean, with 12k, I'd be way better off improving other areas of my system. I do believe cables matter... a little... on a system that has had all the other areas optimized. In my mind the ROI is in this order:
1) Speakers
2) Acoustic treatements
3) Source/DAC
4) Amp/Preamp
5) literally anything else
6) cables

With an extra 10k not spent on cables, I could have gone to the 800D3 speakers, or done a really sophisticated room treatment, or upgraded to something like a Chord DAVE, probably even a Pass Labs X350.8 (when including my existing amp budget) or Pass Labs preamp.