I NEED to hop in here! I am somewhat new to Headfi, it being a 5month old hobby for me, but I have spent about 3000$ on Headphone equipment and a soundcard for kicks. (1800 after I returned wires). I traveled to the 4 largest audio shops in my STATE (for fun) just to demo new (pretty much every modern) incredibly expensive product of all kinds with headphones I've demoed a grand total of probably somewhere around 20 aftermarket cables.
Midway through this journey about 2 1/2 months ago, I spent $1200-1400 on signal cables (this does not including Headphone my $580 of headphone recabling, source cable only) of all colors, shapes and forms. -EDIT: for post coherence reasons I've refrained from listing the plethora-.
NOW, I too was skeptical to begin with, "A cable?!!? Really? How's that going to improve my experience?!"
I'm here to tell you that ALTHOUGH "It's just 1's and 0's" This does NOT hold true for audio the same way it does for video. 00940's post = angelic sending concerning this topic and explains (most) of the science behind it. This is a myth that needs to be dispelled - BADLY. Anyone who tries to play Dr. Phil with the "cable believers vs nonbelievers" argument has very obviously never, ever...EVER tried a third party cable of any sorts, and they are denying their real systems potential.
Ask anyone and I do mean anybody who personally own a 2k+ rig built around 1-2 headphone, anybody who builds chips for a living, anybody who's heard credible (not dirt cheap) aftermarket cables. The difference is astounding, no buts about it: the difference can easily be ASTRONOMICAL!!!!!!!!!!!
Without Custom cabling Headphones lose their edge to speakers... It's a sad truth, but Custom cabling allows Headphones to be taken to a whole new level, and THAT is where the true bang for buck sound is in headphones. I would vehemently "reasonably debate" with any cable "nonbeliever" *cough, *cough*
If you do NOT (LOOOLL) believe me then please, by all means, TRY IT! Signal cable is JUST AS important as what DAC, amp, or source you choose, and I do mean JUST AS imporant. Sadly recabling is terribly underrated, heh, accept by those who've actually tried or done it. Everyone else who has had the opportunity..... is terribly naiive to the level of performance their system could have. It really is terribly sad and somebody needs to set the record straight.
That "believer vs non-believer" argument is blasphemous unto the audio religion itself. If you are devoted to the sound, don't you think you owe it to yourself to at least try it out and discern with your own ears?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? OF COURSE you do! So get out there and TRY IT. If you don't like it then just RETURN it. (pew pew) I hope this incredibly passionate rant was somewhat informative and can lay to rest the cable questions. (I am sick of seeing cable "makes difference or no" questions).
I could go on to describe every cable as I heard it, but that would be boring (EDIT: to me ) and almost pointless. It's too nitty-gritty to post that many reccomendations online. Cabling is just one of those things you have to try out for yourself. I will say that USB signal cable has come LEAPS and BOUNDS in the last year or so, and it is widely believed among those in the industry that the new offerings do match and even surpass the traditional "coax is supreme" cable at a fraction of the price. It's also quite a lot cheaper than coax of similar quality (i.e. 500$ usb cable = about 680-800$ coax cable, and it still edges those coax cables out.... and Glass fiber?! Don't even go there for headphones. 550-700$ per cable that don't even take the signal off your digital passthroughs clock? That's one of USB's two strengths(!!!!) Count me out when such things exsist as the Carbon, Coffee, and Diamond Audioquest USB cables. Wireworld also makes (from what I've heard good cables that sell too.
Audioquest really put some effort into their 2 high end USB's. TRY CARBON usb if you're curious about aftermarket signal cable, hell or even cinnemon would float your boat into new waters, but I've found carbon be the best bang (incuding dollar for performance) for buck regarding any setup or chain. Kimber Cable also makes two Great usb cables) Theirs are solid copper and 6.25% plated silver.
Overall in short, the best 2 cables to my ears (and also 2nd and 3rd opinion freinds who had no vested interest in the purchases whatsoever) were the Diamond and Coffee USB cables by Audioquest. Yes, it's a lot to sink into a cable, but please, please, at least educate yourself by giving products like them a shot. Your ears DO NOT deserve to live in darkness. Not with all the money you've already poured into your setup desperately searching for the best sound. Cables are one of the main strengths that make headphones what they are: in a word, EPIC joy. ;*)
Edited by Hennyo - 5/24/11 at 8:06pm