FFE Magazine

Should you buy an expensive cable for your iPod?

19may expensive cables



Speakers, headsets, earphones… all these are necessary devices to listen to music players like laptops and iPods. However, a big part of sound quality comes down to the cables people use that connect these devices all together — and many industry insiders claim buying expensive cables can give the best quality sounds.


However, are expensive cables really worth their value?


In Britain, the most expensive cables start at £1,000. This is because these cables, unlike those that come free with gadgets, are made of materials cleared of impurities.


Atlas Cables Managing Director Kevin Kelly said that cheap cables can lose some of the finer qualities of a sound signal as it gets transmitted from a device to a speaker. However, purer, more expensive materials can preserve much more of the original sound signal, leading to better quality music.


Kelly said ‘There’s a lot of engineering in the process that’s trying to make a better and more efficient product.’ However, for customers who are buying cables on a budget, Kelly confessed that sound quality all boils down to comparing demonstrations of the cables.


Andrew Rothwell of Rothwell Audio argued that ‘it’s not simply a matter of one cable costs twice as much so it’s twice as good.’ He said that the variations in sound in expensive cables are not necessarily an improvement on the quality. In addition, bad sounding speakers can be remedied by re-positioning them rather than buying high-tech cables.


After tests, Professor Patrick Gaydecki of the University of Manchester’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering gives his take on the issue: ‘A cheap cable costing you £5 will perform no better or no worse than a cable costing orders of magnitude more.


Besides, he added, the difference in sound quality between a cheap and an expensive cable may, for the ‘average human listener,’ be too subtle to detect.


But if there is few to no difference between cheap and expensive cables, then why do the latter continue to sell in the market?


Psychologist Emma Kenny explained that some people who spend lots of money for an item usually ‘need to personally justify the cost.’


So should you splurge on expensive cables for the promise of better quality of sound? The Telegraph’s Deputy Head of Technology Matthew Sparkes said sometimes expensive cables are worth it, especially when they satisfy personal wants and budgets. However, he said that ‘the “best” cable isn’t always the best option’ and ads must not always be taken too seriously.



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