After spending the summer of 1972 working in my dad’s wholesale auto parts store, I’d earned enough money to buy my own stereo system. For the record, it was a Marantz integrated amp, a Lenco turntable (Shure cartridge), and a pair of Electrovoice speakers. The roll of speaker wire included was very typical for the day, being a spool of 18 gauge wire.
I got everything all connected and was enjoying the system and thinking: “that wire sure is little compared to the size of everything else!” Now, working in a wholesale auto parts store lets you see all kinds of battery cables. The next day I brought home a set of battery cables and tried to modify them to connect to the amp and speakers. I could get them to stay connected briefly and noticed much more bass. However, they were so big and heavy they kept falling out, so I wondered what would be bigger than speaker wire but a little easier to work with. I found some smaller electrical cables in the parts bins that were about 12 gauge and used those instead – which were also a huge improvement. I guess I missed a big opportunity – in 1979 Monster Cable came out with their very first product, a 12 gauge flexible speaker wire and went on to become a $500/million company. Monster Cable became the de facto wire to use if you wanted better sound, and they dominated the market for several years.
In 1985 I had just finished the basement in the first house my wife and I had purchased. I remember being so excited to bring home a pair of Vandersteen 2Cs to listen to. I connected them up to the Monster Cable I had laying around and thought: “huh, something is just missing.” The reason I thought this is – we had just started carrying a wire from Karen Sumner, called Music Hose. I drove back to the store, grabbed some Music Hose, and to this day I can remember how stunning the difference in sound was. The system just came to life! Lots of other people started to experience and enjoy the differences in better speaker cables as a whole industry was spawned. Karen’s company became Transparent Cable, one of the most successful high performance cable companies in the industry, with her products being found in most audio and video production studios around the world along with millions of homes. (Yeah, I know. I should have started Leon’s Wire back in 1972!)
Fast forward to 2013 and I’ve got some pretty decent gear at home. My buddy Brad, from Transparent , calls me up and says I have to hear their latest Reference cables. When I connected their newest creations up to my system, I felt like it was 1985 again. Even though I had some very high performance products in place before from another brand, this was a huge leap ahead in musical involvement. I found myself listening to all my favorites over again and enjoying them more than ever before.
So the moral of this story? Wire (or cable as the industry likes to call it) can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your system. Just give it a try and you’ll see what I mean!