$1 Million if You Can Prove $7250 Speaker Cables Are Any Better Than $80 Speaker Cables

from the $302-per-foot-of-cable dept

There’s just something about extreme audiophiles that is either amusing or depressing, depending on your point of view. Now, as a music fan, I’ve got nothing against trying to make things sound better — but there are serious diminishing marginal returns after a certain point (and, of course, there are some really fantastic musical compositions that were recorded on such crappy equipment that it’s never going to matter). However, there is a group of audiophiles who really seem to stick up their nose at anyone who dares to suggest they’ve taken things too far. Professional skeptic James Randi apparently wants to put them in their place — and is offering up $1 million to make his case. As pointed out by Slashdot, Randi is now offering $1 million to anyone who can prove that there’s any real difference in performance between a pair of $80 Monster HDMI cables (which many will claim is already overpriced) and the astoundingly priced $7,250 12-foot “Anjou” audio cables from Pear Cable. As Randi notes, the key is in the actual performance — not in “qualities that can only be perceived by attentive dogs or by hi-tech instrumentation.”

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Comments on “$1 Million if You Can Prove $7250 Speaker Cables Are Any Better Than $80 Speaker Cables”

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Area593 says:

Re: Re: Re: YES!

Actually due to the lossy compression used when ripping to MP3 there is quite a lot of artifacts present in the compressed copy. Firstly the signal is bandlimited, then certain phasing in the signal (between L & R channels) is removed, then on top of that you end up with a weird form of aliasing in the signal due to the final steps of the compression process.
I have been a sound engineer for a while now and I have tested ‘normal’ people with untrained ears to see if they can tell the difference and 75% of them can. Even though the information that is removed from the CD signal is supposed to be impreceivable, it still interacts with the parts of the signal that are perceivable, meaning that when the “impereceivable” stuff is removed there does end up being audible changes in the compressed version.
Don’t get me wrong, compressed audio can sound good, but only if done properly. Although it will never replace the uncompressed 192kHz 24bit that I listen to in my studio 🙂

Mike F.M (user link) says:

Depends on the definition

“offering $1 million to anyone who can prove”

It’s being able to prove your case that is the impossible bit.

People are different in their perceptions and what is a vast improvement to one, may not be to another.

True, it’s worth making a case for this if you have one, but my guess is that this was entirely made for the publicity generated by such an offer – if the prize is obtainable or not gets pushed to the side. Because this is so much money for such a ‘simple’ task, it will generate alot of publicity and interest in his point.

Keenan says:

This is about cables

The offer is for the difference between the cables. Not sampling rates, not recording sources, not even speakers, but between cables. Yes there are differences between cable quality, but Monster cables are pretty high up there in the quality department. Copper wire is copper wire, so unless those Anjou cables are actually made out of gold (which is a better conductor than copper) the quality difference is most likely indistinguishable.

But if the quality was that much better there wouldn’t be a million dollar prize for this would there…

Anonymous Coward says:

Gold not so good.

Gold as a conductor isn’t as good as copper.

Mostly the reason using gold-plated or tipped cable is simply because it doesn’t tarnish.

So when you connect it to your amplifier, you didn’t get any degradation of that itsy-bitsy source signal, that you are trying to get through the gear. I don’t know if having gold plated cables in the speaker cables to the amplifier make any difference, because there is so much power, your end result might not be worth it. So worry about the patch cables in between the components first.

But not having anything that decent, I might be wrong.
According to this website(and others);

“Resistivities(sp) at room temp:

Element Electrical resistivity (microohm-cm)

Aluminum 2.655
Copper 1.678
Gold 2.24
Silver 1.586
Platinum 10.5

This clearly puts silver as the number one conductor and gold has higher resistance than silver or copper. It’s desireable(sp) in connectors because it does not combine well with other materials so remains relatively pure at the surface. It also has the capability to adhere to itself (touch pure gold to pure gold and it sticks together) which makes for very reliable connections. “

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Gold not so good.

Totally right – ever had one of those crap connections in the old days (especially with serial mice in inductrial environments) where the solution was simply to take it out and put it back in again?

That’s due to the connectors tarnishing over time and building up an oxide layer which degrades the connection. By removing and reinserting the connector you are in effect scraping this oxide layer off, once more improving the connection. As you state gold doesn’t do this

That’s the exact reason that gold plated connectors make for a better connection – just in case you were interested

Sorry – my inner geek got hold of me for a second ;0)

Cub says:

Oh for the love of Pete!!

Listening to 128k vs as low as 192 or hell in certain music 160 is noticeable. CD’s just sound better though at the higher bit rates it is not as noticeable. This argument almost reminds me of the vinyl vs CD. I believe Navone Engineering (autosound 2000) had a similar 10,000 double blind amplifier challenge. I always loved the cable debates. I’ve got silver Kimber cable and it makes the music come alive or I use 1/0 gauge speaker wire because I am pushing a 10 jillion watts (never mind that the tinsel leads are 22 gauge on the speaker.) The law of diminishing returns in audio equipment is at its peak in cable. Considering all the other issues in life this is a silly one to argue about. Let the audio Primadonna’s have their smug superior say. Meanwhile I will take that 7 grand and change I saved and go on a decent vacation. Cause with my male over 30 hearing I am not going to be able to tell much of a difference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Easy Money

Measure resistance and EMI tolorance of one cable to the other. If the expensive cable stands up to interference and ofference less attenuation, then you will have proven it is the better cable.

He doesn’t define “performance” so I don’t believe an audible difference in sound quality needs to be proven, just that one is better than the other.

ed says:

This article misses the point. Swift wasn’t comparing Monster HDMI(digital)cables to Pear Anjou speaker cables (analog).
He was decrying the ridiculous price of Monster HDMI (a $10 dollar generic cable works just as well, IMO. It is a digital signal and as long as the 1’s and 0’s get to their destination all is well) and the ludicrous price Pear charges for their premium speaker cables.

Live from AES NYC says:

Re: all digital?

HDMI cables are digital video cables that usually don’t pass audio. A fun fact. A difference with the quality of audio cables manifests specifically over distance. That is why you can put a fuse in line which is of a tiny internal diameter but short length and *not hear it.* RF and other interference comes into play with long cable runs. The average person will not hear a difference between different copper cables at the same length.

photoboy5 says:

Comparing apples to pears?

“who can prove that there’s any real difference in performance between a pair of $80 Monster HDMI cables…and the…12-foot “Anjou” audio cables from Pear Cable”

HDMI = Digital interconnect for source component
Anjou = Analog interconnect for speakers

There is no way for you to compare these two items side by side. You’d need two totally different source/output devices to pull this off. Which means you’re now comparing SYSTEMS not cables.

The key component to any audio system is the listener. If you’re not LISTENING attentively then you’ll never hear a difference in any system. But if you pay attention you will be moved by a quality audio system, I promise.

This whole challenge diminishes the real reason people call themselves audiophiles – they’re snobs. Like someone who will spend an hour describing a glass of wine they are more interested in the esoteric depth of their knowledge than the true expression of they product – wine or music.

All hail to Pear for taking every dime they can from these goofy bastards.

Gantz says:

“HDMI cables are digital video cables that usually don’t pass audio.”
Uh….High-Definition Multimedia Interface. Actually, HDMI cables do carry audio and can “support 8-channel uncompressed digital audio at 192 kHz sample rate with 24 bits/sample as well as any compressed stream such as Dolby Digital, or DTS. HDMI supports up to 8 channels of one-bit audio, such as that used on Super Audio CDs at rates up to 4x that used by Super Audio CD. With version 1.3, HDMI now also supports lossless compressed streams such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.”

Anonymous Coward says:

When I first got my HD system, I got ripped off by Best Buy by paying about $50 for a very short HDMI cable (about 3′ long). However, I needed a couple more, so I went to Newegg and got a couple longer ones for about $7 each. The cables themselves are much thinner, so that probably means less shielding, but honestly, I can’t tell the difference. My upconvert DVD player gives me an absolutely beautiful picture on my 40″ Samsung LCD through the $7 HDMI cable. Seven grand is absolutely ridiculous, and you are delusional if you really think that it is actually any better than the normally-priced cables.

In any event, any miniscule increase in quality would never be worth that much money. All it amounts to is extremely expensive bragging rights. I could certainly think of better uses for that kind of money. Heck, if I had seven grand laying around, I’d be making a substantial down payment on a new car, which is actually useful for something.

Oh, and to the moron who says that HDMI cables don’t usually transmit audio, do yourself a favor and use your favorite search engine of choice to research this one. The HDMI spec is all about having a single cable that transmits BOTH video and audio digitally. About the only time you will find an HDMI hookup that does not transmit audio is if you are converting a DVI-out port from a PC to HDMI (DVI is video only, so you have to use a separate connection to the PC’s audio jack) or if you are using some el cheapo A/V receiver that doesn’t support audio via HDMI.

dazcon5 says:

been done

Read an article in one of the hifi mags about this several years ago. The setup was 12ga. Radio Shack speaker wire for 10 bucks vs. $2000 Kimber speaker cables. The mag invited several audiophiles/writers/manufacturers. NO ONE could tell the difference between the cables. Sales people love to quote spec but blubber when asked “how does it sound?”. I have been fortunate to work with very high end audio equipment (50K or more). In all that time, once you get beyond the $2000 mark the differences in “how it sounds” becomes almost totally perception of the individual.

Jan says:

Re: been done

Thirty years ago I was a physics student. A classmate was an audiophile. He used the equipment in the well equipped physics lab to compare different choices of speaker wire for signal degradation from the cheapest to the most expensive alternatives he could find. The winner, with the lowest signal degradation, was – two strand lamp cord

Anonymous Coward says:


reminds me of my buddy telling me about some Best Buy Woes he expirenced while working in HS.

his manager was reading a BB “trainer” on ways to push the “expensive” monster cables.

it was something to the effect that “they use gold and are bigger. this alows the electricity to move faster so the noise doesn’t catch up” wow…just wow.

but moving along, i think it’s quite possible to show any type of signal loss/attenuation with good test equipment. however, i think the goal of the challenge is to show that while technically you get a better signal, what is the return? i.e. if you only get a .00001% increase for an extra 7.2k is it worth it? moreover, where is the “line” so to speak where it isn’t noticeable by the populace?

Russ says:

High End Audio is just a big joke...

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the really high end audio gear (see musicdirect dot com) is a joke that average paid engineers use to get back at all the ultra rich doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers who have so much money that spending $7000 plus on speaker wire sounds reasonable. Check out the Cable Elevators at MusicDirect. The engineers who designed these must be rolling on the floor in hysterics every time they sell a set to some investment banker. I’m not sure if the folks at MusicDirect are in on the joke but I find it hilarious.

His Shadow says:

Why all the yak about mp3s? Of course you lose audio quality with compression. That’s a fact. The issue whether the audiophiles can actually hear what they claim to hear. The mere fact that they gush over insanely priced UNBALANCED AUDIO CABLES is a clue: they have no idea what they are talking about.

Professional high end rigs do not use unbalanced audio. They do not use RCA. The Winspear center in Edmonton is one of the best places in North America to listen to live music. In the Amplifier room, you will find absolutely nothing but 22 guage twisted shielded pair for mic and drive lines and 18 to 10 guage unshielded twisted pair for speakers. That’s it. No Monster cable, no bilge about “oxygen free” and no RCA jacks.

JoGusto (user link) says:

It's digital, man! not analog.... duh!

there’s a lot of bla bla about “incremental improvement” in the signal conduction, shielding, or whatnot. Guess what? It’s not going to matter one frigging bit! HDMI is a DIGITAL interface. Either the ones and zeros make it across, or they don’t. You won’t hear “slight differences” if the cables are a little better. Instead, you will either hear the sound — as good as it gets in its digital perfection — or you are going to hear MASSIVE artifacts when bits get dropped, or entire sample blocks are missing if the cable has a problem.

The supposed benefits of monstor-sized speaker wire (analog) or stereo interconnects (analog) are just irrelevant and nonsensical to talk about when the medium is carrying digital data. Anyone who claims to hear a difference in sound between two HDMI cables is a liar.

Because of the robustness of digital signal transmission and the possibility of using error-correction to perfectly reconstruct the digital original perfectly, down to the bit, this whole bruhaha about super cables has become irrelevant, and only a fool with a lot of money to burn and ego to pump will buy this garbage.

Why do you think CDs supplanted vinyl? or DVD audio has supplanted CD? Digital makes defects in the transmission or storage medium virtually irrelevant.

Benjie says:

Best Buy

“hardly anyone is on board with the “monster” cable fan club on the avsforum. High quality cables (not necessarily monster) only make a difference when you are dealing with long lengths (sorry I can’t remember the range). For short runs like 3ft… there’s no difference.”

I have a 12′ cable. heck, our cabling and infrastructure people periodically run our Cat5 > 100 meters by 1-30 meters and still test out fine. it is impossible to have a difference in sound if you have a digital line that doesn’t get errors. it’s like bragging that my 1s and 0s are clearer. now if the 1s and 0s get swapped or can’t be read, there will be a difference, but with no line errors, spending a billion $$$$ on a cable won’t help.

Mark says:

Just use Cat5 wire

I had a friend show me how use Cat5 cabling. He was running Cat5 I believe only 2 pair from his tube amp to some home made speakers he made from a kit. Supposedly the copper in Cat5 is very good, I think he picked this up from someone else from some audio forum group. Not sure if anybody else heard of doing this. I assume the copper in Cat5 has to be a really good grade to carry data signals in long runs. Just my 0.02 cents on another alternative to big box store Monster cables or the good stuff from the expensive audiophile stores. He played a few tracks from a CD which sounded pretty good to my ears, and played backed some 160kbps streams from the net also sounded pretty good.

fuse5k says:

rich tax

The real reason they make these cables at such high prices is so that when rich people go into a store, and ask for the absolute best of everything, they get lumped with a really expensive cable.

Do you honestly think that any true audiophile would spend that much on a cable? I think not, they would buy speakers. or possibly a speaker. I think the audiophiles will know that for their 7000 dollar investment they would be far better off buying better speakers than better cable.

Its true that any “real” stereo system is only as good as the cabling. But everyone knows that putting a $7000 cable on a $500 system isnt going to make it sound any better.

To do a true test for the million, you would have to have the best quality equpiment, ie a system that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars anyway.

If this was a true test (ie not just a digital cable VS a speaker cable) then it would be possible to hear the difference between one cable and another on the right piece of kit, however very very few people have other audio components with quality this high, so the effect is lost.

To be honest, im an audiophile on a budget and when it comes to speaker cable i go to the hardware store and buy electrical wire (twisted pair is best, due to the twisted wires being less suceptable to interference) as the wire is high gauge, and its all made of high grade copper. This costs about a dollar a meter, compared to audio electronic shops who will sell you poorer quality cables for a LOT more

Paul Reid (user link) says:

Simply amazing

The only thing that’s amazing about the Amazing Randi is that anyone still listens to this guy. He is constantly coming up with ridiculous challenges in which he can weasel out when he loses and gets in the press by offering $1 million.

One time he offered $1 million for documented proof of miraculous healing. When presented with literally thousands of cases, did he ever pay out? Of course not. He used the presented evidence to “prove” that sometimes tumors completely disappear overnight, etc. This in spite of seasoned medical professionals saying there was no scientific way for these things to happen.

In this case, he is comparing HDMI (digital) cable to analog speaker cable. For proof, he gives a weasel-like statement that is not even scientific, as usual.

He is right in this case, though. There will be no difference between an $80 HDMI cable and any other HDMI cable on earth. Both will successfully get all 1s and 0s to their destination.

A more interesting test would be to find a $15 Acoustic Research or Blue Jeans Cable that successfully gets all the 1s and 0s to their destination and then challenge anyone to find a cable that costs more and “performs better”, with the test being a reading of the 1s and 0s on the other side.

But of course, as all semi-technical people know, a digital signal either gets there or it doesn’t.

Oh, and as far as the unshielded lamp cord goes, you can always tell when a church used one on the platform, because you can quietly hear radio stations in the background or police radio suddenly interrupting the sermon as a police car drives by. The sound board guy will always swear that his lamp cord is a great idea and saved the church a bundle and that it has nothing to do with the problem.

Of course, replacing the lamp cord with a quality shielded cable always fixes the problem.

I assume the Physics lab was very well-shielded, so your friend didn’t notice this phenomenon.

James Randi (user link) says:

Re: Simply amazing

To Mr. Paul Reid:

Sir, we at the James Randi Educational Foundation have ALWAYS offered the million-dollar prize for “documented proof of miraculous healing,” and we still do. NOT ONE of those who claim they can establish this phenomenon has offered ANY evidence of it. They have preferred to state – as you did – that we ignored the proof. There was no “presented evidence,” as you say there was. Bottom line: the grubbies continue to make unsupported claims that we challenge, every day, and they don’t come forward to collect the million.

Along with the rest of the world, we have to wonder why, and we think we know…

Russ says:

Digital cables and the length of a bit

If you talk to high end audio sales people about why premium optical cables matter, they will give you reasons like more accurate transmission, fewer or no internal reflections, etc. They will tell you accurate transmission matters because you want the leading edge of the bit to be clean and sharp, not jaggy or distorted. The truth of the matter is that optical bits are much longer then the cables that carry them from one component to another. At the CD data rate of 44,000 16 bit samples per second for two channels, 1,408,000 bits per second, a bit lasts .0000007 seconds and in that time, at 30,000,000,000 meters/sec, light will travel about 21,306 meters. So one bit completely saturates a 6′ optical interconnect and reflections/edge degredation effects are poppycock. Basically, as others have said, the only way a digital interconnect could degrade a signal is by dropping bits and that would be pretty obvious. Just more malarky to rip off the uninformed.

Boris Jacobsen says:

Let idiots be idiots

For better or (on the whole, I think) worse, we live in a capitalist society. If some audio company wants to ridiculously overprice their goods and someone is stupid enough to buy them, I’m sure they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

It’s just like certain unskilled but ludicrously expensive modern art, for example. If the idiot buyers are out there, good luck!

sashi138 says:

yea... more dollars then brain cells

Seems to me that while one can argue back and fourth with experts and such that deal in the hardware and construction of such cables (the wire composition and its metalic makeup and sound conductive properties) as well as the transference of sound quality with most random bits of music taken here and there by audio mixing experts, to my common ears and eye it would eventually come down to one thing…
‘who’s got’ the 7000+ dollars to spend on buying a dozen feet of both cables to *TEST* this theory..
because if its wrong, then the buyer that wanted to try that experiment is out *7 grand* plus for a pair of cables that prompted them to shoot for the million dollar prize!

Personally, I can definetly see the reason’s behind the necessity of this test, but I, for one, as jane normal honestly can’t cough up seven grand plus for doing something that I am already convinced is a fool’s errand.. if they have that much money and can throw it away on vanity of a cable put together by some company that knows their ego is as big as their wallets, then they dont see them as customers.. they see them as the Assinine SUCKERS they are.

sashi138 says:

yea... more dollars then brain cells

Seems to me that while one can argue back and fourth with experts and such that deal in the hardware and construction of such cables (the wire composition and its metalic makeup and sound conductive properties) as well as the transference of sound quality with most random bits of music taken here and there by audio mixing experts, to my common ears and eye it would eventually come down to one thing…
‘who’s got’ the 7000+ dollars to spend on buying a dozen feet of both cables to *TEST* this theory..
because if its wrong, then the buyer that wanted to try that experiment is out *7 grand* plus for a pair of cables that prompted them to shoot for the million dollar prize!

Personally, I can definetly see the reason’s behind the necessity of this test, but I, for one, as jane normal honestly can’t cough up seven grand plus for doing something that I am already convinced is a fool’s errand.. if they have that much money and can throw it away on vanity of a cable put together by some company that knows their ego is as big as their wallets, then they dont see them as customers.. they see them as the Assinine SUCKERS they are.

Plank says:

Actually people would still buy an Ipod.

What i think your forgetting is the general use of portable audio…. it doesnt have to be as good.

For 2 reasons.

Firstly its being listened to generally using some headphones – not large speakers. There would be a difference there, even with CD.

Secondly – its on the move. People are more concerned to try and fit as much in a small area as possilbe – not making sure its CD quality.

When people are at home however they expect better. Just look how CD`s are still selling….. thats because people want CD quality. If people didnt notice, then surely everyone would get MP3 hifis and download the MP3`s as its cheaper….. not many people do.

His Shadow says:

Good job, Paul Ried, you are a liar and dipstick to boot. For one, the healer situation you described never occurred. Testimonials and anecdotes are not evidence. For two, the quote from the JREF site (I’m sure you read it, right?) says:

“Well, we at the JREF are willing to be shown that these “no-compromise” cables perform better than, say, the equivalent Monster cables.”

So there’s the challenge. Does a 7000 set of speaker cables “perform” better than a Monster cable *equivalent*. See how easy that was?

Asher Schweigart says:

It's in the equipment too.

7k wires don’t do shat f your equipment isn’t up to that same quality. Neither would $80 wires for that matter. I hooked up and xbox to a cheap projection tv an old roommate of mine had via monster component video cable. The picture looked way better that a composite cable, but another dvd plaer hooked up through cheap component cable looked just as good on the set.

However, the same roommate also latter got a monster cable powerstrip that was suppossed to remove rf noise from the power line, and even on the same tv, it made a noticable difference in over the air tv when the tv and the attenna power cable was hooked through it
(no cable on campus, thankfully i am no longer at college)

I can’t imagine needing a 7k video cable unless you had this tv:

Jay says:

Techdirt post is wrong

Please read James Randi’s original claim:


He never challenged a comparison of digital vs. analog, he said he was suprised a Monster HDMI cable cost $80 until he saw there were speaker cables selling for $7K+, then he challenged that the Monster Equivalent of the Pear Anjou would sound the same.

AH says:


I’ll pay a million to anyone that can blind tell the difference between 300 kbps 24 kbit mp3 encoding and a CD. Way too many douche bags that think they can. Jesus I am sure those people think oxygen-free cables make a difference too.

Real conductivity results:

0.377 10^6/cm ohm Aluminum Al 13
0.452 10^6/cm ohm Gold Au 79
0.596 10^6/cm ohm Copper Cu 29
0.63 10^6/cm ohm Silver Ag 47

Ken (user link) says:

Your Wish Is Your Command

Your Wish Is Your Command is a course sold by Kevin Trudeau. No one can ever say that he is not a compelling salesman and his infomercials hawking various products are legendary. This latest product targets the natural desire for wealth that most people obsess about while also pushing conspiracy theories that blame “secret societies” for keeping the secret of wealth and prosperity from the masses.Your Wish Is Your Command

Ronald Murray says:


With all this talk of cables, I often forget that I’ve got an audio system that 95% of the American population wishes it could have. I only spent a thousand on my Rotel RCD-1072/RA-1062 and it’s it just goes to show that you don’t need to spend crazy amounts of money to get really great sound for music.

Although, most people think spending $600 on a CD player is crazy…

bob says:


What a stupid idiot.

First off, the Pear Cable “ANJOU” are analog interconnects and the Monster is an HDMI cable, so it’s impossible to compare the two because they don’t do the same thing.

is this an actual Randi test? Do you have a link to this so called offer? I want my Million.

Now, does he want empirical measurements or does he want subjective listening tests? Maybe the cable mfg don’t know that Randi has this offer. But if they want measurements, heres’s what I would look at. Bandwidth. Some of these higher priced HDMI cables simply have higher bandwidth, or are rated at the bandwidth at longer cable lengths.

But the Anjou cables aren’t even HDMI, so it’s impossible to compare an HDMI cable to an RCA interconnect.

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