hdmi optical cable

Have seen remarks here that “all optical cables sound alike” because “they all transmit 0′s and 1′s,” etc. That’s true, but it’s also true that coax transmits the same 0′s and 1′s. Coax cables sound different, and so do opticals. It’s not digits, folks, it’s the materials used, echoes, resonance, impedance matching, clock timing/jitter, etc., etc. These AR’s do have a cleaner, clearer, more detailed sound than their more expensive Monster Lightspeed counterparts (which are generally awful). Considering the price, this AR cable is quite good; a clean high end, nice midrange, very decent soundstage in width and depth. There are rave reviews here for these AR’s – I can’t justify a 4 or 5 rating here.

 On high end equipment, they sound clean but too lean, the very low end being detailed and tight but not as ‘there’ as the rest of the spectrum. A (very) mild hardness in the upper midrange, especially on female voices. The lead-in of instrumental attack is a little sloppy (piano, drums, guitar, etc.), often making some piano keys sound as if they need to be screwed down tighter or something. On lesser audio systems (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.) the AR’s did acquit themselves quite well. Give them a 4 in cheapo systems, but with mid-fi or higher their faults become amplified. Still, at $35 they present a good, well-focused soundstage and sounded mighty nice on my older (cheapo) system, which typically had bloated bass and wiry highs that this cable handled well. For high-end gear, unfortunately, they won’t do. I have to add points to the AR’s overall rating, however, because of their very good DVD picture playback. In that respect, the AR’s were far superior in DVD playback to the over-priced junk being sold by Monster nowadays. On my audio system I have better, pricier cables, but these AR’s have found a permanent home on my Toshiba DVD video player.


speaker cables

Speakers are a significant part of stereo, and help to determine the overall sound coming from the system. You can spend around $100 for an inexpensive pair, or thousands and thousands on a high-end, state-of-the-art one. 

These devices are of many types and come in various models: on-wall, in-wall, satellite, bookshelf and floorstanding. Bookshelf and floorstanding models usually have the best sound since the enclosures and speakers are performance matched. Satellite models are quite small, and occupy much less space. On-wall ones are quite common with flat-panel TVs. In-wall models not only have good sound, but can also be painted so as to match the walls. All models of stereo speakers come in various shapes, sizes, and finishes; the ideal way to select these devices is to test several models by listening to them before making any decision.

  • Read reviews on the Internet and in audio magazines to help you determine which stereo speakers to listen to.
  • Look for the acoustic suspension speakers if you wish to have tight, clean, accurate bass.
  • Set your budget for the speaker cables; they can cost you a few dollars to several thousand of dollars.
  • If you want big and wide soundstage, go for the flat panel speakers.
  • If you are looking for inexpensive models, shop in electronic stores; however, if you are in search of high-fidelity ones, audio specialty stores are the right place to go.
  • Avoid listening to those models that are not within your price range.
  • Ask the salesperson of the shop to position the models optimally.
  • Purchase good quality of  the speaker cables.
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