Is it worth upgrading cheap coaxial cable?

I’m using a Pi2 with a HifiBerry Digi and currently I’m just using a coaxial cable that I picked up on Amazon for about £5 (for a 1m cable). I guess it sounds fine, but having upgraded my old Marantz amp for a reasonably expensive (for me) Yamaha A-S801 I’m wondering if I could be doing better without spending a whole lot?

I’m not prepared to spend more than maybe £25 per metre (about US$32 right now, probably less and less as Brexit approaches :unamused: ). If I can get a bottle of whisky for the same cost, the whisky is gonna win, basically. At this price point, is it worth the upgrade?

Most discussion on this (dull, tedious) topic centres around wether or not more expensive cables are technically better than budget/ bundled cables, or if cables at a much higher price point are worth it. But really I just want some thoughts on wether budget (but not bottom of the barrel) cables are a worthwhile upgrade on bundled/ dirt cheap cables for someone without all that much spare income?

I realise this is a can of worms kind of topic and it’s all super subjective and I should just try some different options for myself, but still…

The amp seems to have a Toslink and USB port, so try that first and compare.

Yes. Upgrading from any real cheap cable usually brings something.

How much it will bring and how expensive the cable should be is not/never a simple clear answer.

In my personal search for improved but not crazy expensive cabling, I stumbled on RUconnected which proved a nice step at an affordable price.

I think at the pricerange you gave, it is worth it.

But also test it. Easy way is:

  • play music
  • stop playback
  • listen very close to the speakers for any noise/sound/hissing (increase volume to very loud to be sure)
  • unplug the coaxial cable at the destenation end (dac or amp)
  • listen again very close to your speakers

In case you hear a difference in the noise floor coming from your speakers when nothing is playing, your source is introducing some noise. This could very well be coming from interference picked up by your cheap coaxial cable.

With a new/better cable you should be getting a lower noise floor and better SQ.

Good luck in your search and lrt us know [emoji2]

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I’m not sure this fits the setup. As far as I understand he’s using the HifiBerry Digi with coax cable for SPDIF - so unless there’s significant current on the cable there should be no sound at all since there’s no data to decode?! Other than noise on an analog connection the digital errors should be easily detectable by ear.

But then again… maybe he could generate an empty wave file (silence only or maybe some test tones) and play that and check for differences in the silent parts.

Another idea might be digitally re-recording the amps output (via TAPE REC or something) to check for things like static, hum and other noises and abnormalities you can easily see in a spectogram view. Though this should be done carefully and compared to a no-signal-input-recording of the recording device, just to make sure the noise is not introduced during recording.

It does fit as the goal is exactly what you are saying, to find interference from the coaxial SPDIF cable that gets introduced to the analog stages.

To eleminate any current, not meant as digital data, which could cause pieces in the chain like the DAC or (pre)amp to be impacted somehow.

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I would expect low currents, which you could certainly hear in most analog-only setups, to go through “unnoticed” in this kind of setup. After all he does not seem to have these kind of problems right now.

Then again, I might have overseen the impact of even low currents on small device like the Raspberry Pi + DAC… There might be integrated mechanisms (ground? whatever… I’m not too much into electrics) that prevent this or at least limit the impact on more expensive setups.

So I will admit you’re right to check that first.