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Why decent speaker wire is vitally important

Believe it or not, speaker wire can make even a £5,000 set of speakers sound no better than a £100 pair

While you're busy worrying about which MP3 player offers the best sound, which mini hi-fi system has the best speakers and which headphones boast the best performance, you may overlook something you consider superfluous: speaker wire. Seriously, it's more important than you might think...

Believe it or not, poor-quality speaker wire can make even a £5,000 set of speakers sound no better than a £100 pair, and typically, general consumer-grade audio equipment comes with pretty poor wiring. It's a shame, because some manufacturers could be inhibiting the peak performance of their hardware by supplying cheaper cabling.

So what should you look for? Take, for example, a cheap wiring option available on eBay. For fairness, we got some of this cable in, and guffawed relentlessly and derisively at its shoddiness. It cost £1.50 for 20m. Quite understandably, this seems like an amazing deal to Joe Public, who is oblivious to how terrible speaker wire of this 'quality' really is. The advert in question had this as its pitch: '20M/66ft High Quality Speaker Wire'. Let me just make one thing very clear: any speaker wire that costs £1.50 for 20m is not high quality. Maybe if you compared it to string.

For my home system, I use IXOS XHS806W. At its current cost, a couple of 4m lengths will set you back somewhere in the region of £25. So 20m will cost around £70 -- quite a jump from the cheap £1.50 cable of the same length. Accordingly, the jump in quality is phenomenal, and noticeably better than the wire you may get with the average system. If you care enough about the quality of your music to invest a few hundred pounds in a rig of audio separates, splashing out £30 on some excellent wire shouldn't be overlooked.