Do you recommend new speaker terminals, RCA connectors and detachable mains cables?

Sometimes, yes and I’m happy to fit these things, but people are often surprised to learn that, from a technical perspective, there is much more to this.

Many of these topics are plagued by misinformation and pseudoscience. Certain “improvements” are not actually improvements at all, and in some cases are retrograde moves. No retailer selling cables will tell you this of course, even if they actually knew or understood why.

‘Audio Jewellery’

I’m interested in getting your equipment sounding as good as it can, within your budget. I also like keeping equipment original where practical, because that retains value. People are drawn to fancy cables and connectors, but there are almost always lower-hanging fruit that should be knocked off first. My question is:

Do you want blingy connectors or the best sonic improvements and best-running equipment?

Liquid Mike

In other words, if you came to me and said “Mike, I want you to spend two hours improving my amplifier,” I can tell you that those two hours would not be spent upgrading connectors. There would be a far better way in almost every case to spend those two hours and the improvements would be far more significant.

Good Connections

Much of what people think they know about connectors is wrong because it’s based on marketing rather than science, so let’s clarify a few things. Good connections are critically important, good connectors might help us get there, but there’s more to it.

For example, did you know the best connections are no connections at all? Failing that, hardwired connections are always better, in terms of sonics. One of the best ways to improve an amplifier for example is to hard-wire a really good power cable to it, or even signal cables.

The best connector is NO CONNECTOR. I agree that this can be very inconvenient though, so we need to be practical.

But Mike, this is sacrilege! Everyone selling cables and who’s spent a fortune on cables tells me that fancy detachable cables are the way to go!


I’m presenting well-understood and actually very basic science here. You don’t hear about it because it doesn’t suit the retail narrative and most people haven’t the slightest grasp of basic science, which is a shame. Connectors are convenient and sometimes essential. Just know that the fewer connections, the better.

Did you also know that the humble RCA connector is a really poor connector in terms of technical performance? There are many other connector types such as BNC, Camac, Cannon and others that perform measurably better.

I can treat connectors with a product that lowers contact resistance and you’ll hear the difference that makes. I can replace speaker terminals but it may be better to simply change cable-end connectors. If your speaker connectors are broken or awful, then yes, it makes sense to change them.

There are many possibilities that don’t make accessory manufacturers rich though and this feels good. Just ask if you’d like to learn more.

Do Cables Make a Difference?

Yes, of course, they do! Good cables are game changers, so it’s important that you understand exactly what I’m saying and read that FAQ as well.

Because of my science background and experience owning and listening to some of the very best hi-fi gear of all time, and because I’m a musician who knows what real instruments sound like, I’m interested in what’s technically and sonically the best way to go.

Upgrading standard IEC inlets is a really sensible improvement. I can improve an existing IEC inlet with a premium hospital-grade filtered Swiss-made inlet module. They aren’t cheap but you can hear the difference they make. I can also bypass IEC inlets and hard-wire in some heavy-duty cables.

Some of the best-value and highest-performance cables are those sold as cable stock by cable manufacturers like Canare and Mogami, and then rebadged by boutique manufacturers.

Fancy-looking detachable power cables make retailers a ton of money and the biggest markups of all are on cables. If you want fancy detachable cables, no problem, just understand what you are spending money on.

Mini FAQ!

Yes, replacing bad RCA connectors can be very worthwhile when it improves connections. We often upgrade RCA connectors.

No, adding a heavy-duty or very fancy mains cable to a turntable will not make a difference. It simply can’t, because of that wonderful thing, physics. If you want to learn why not, ask me. Changing the signal cable can though.

No, using crazy-thick RCA cables is not a good idea. Want heavy-duty connectors and better sound? Go balanced. All the best gear is balanced and there are many technical reasons why it’s the better way to transmit low-amplitude audio signals.

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