December 1995 - Cable Recommendations
The notion of cable as a high-end component is rather well accepted today by most audiophiles. That helps to explain the steady escalation of cable prices, with some copper-based designs recently breaking the $200 per foot price-tag barrier.
Wow! Even without a calculator in hand, it's easy to see that an investment in cable (speaker cable and interconnects) can exceed the cost of the associated electronics. While I do maintain that cable is an essential link in the performance of any audio system, I also believe in keeping a proper budget perspective. My best advice is as follows: spend less than what you can on amplifiers; what you can afford on loudspeakers; and more than you can afford on cable. Figure on about 10 to 15% of your system dollars as a worthwhile expenditure on cable.
For a discussion of the technical foundation for the sonic character of cable as well as detailed cable recommendations, see my cable article in the inaugural issue of Fi Magazine. The good news is that the spectrum of good-sounding and affordable has widened considerably. My vote for the best cable values on this planet go to TARA Labs' Prism 22 interconnect ($35/1m pair) and their Prism Biwire speaker cable ($3.95/ft pair).
These cables deliver big time! The sound is surprsingly smooth and spacious, with particularly sweet upper octaves. The Prism knows how to cater to violin and female voice with treble transients that are always under control. In particular, the Prism 22's sound reminds me of that of a vintage Dynaco Stereo 70 tube amp.
TARA Labs may be contacted at: 2245 Ashland Street,
Ashland, OR 97520. Tel.: 503-488-6465. Fax: 503-488-6463.