Best speaker cables 2019: budget and premium audio cables

Best speaker cables 2019 Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best speaker wire you can buy in 2019.

A good speaker cable (speaker wire to our American friends) can't make your system sound better than it really is, but it can and should ensure that every last drop of performance makes its way from your amp to your speakers.

What's more, a poor speaker cable can definitely make your system sound a lot worse than it really is, so it's absolutely worth budgeting for decent cabling when buying or upgrading your system. Fail to do so and you'll end up with cheap, poorly made cables that will waste the talents of the expensive kit you've just forked out on.

Not that you have to spend a fortune - our five-star recommendations start at just £5 per metre. Do remember to budget for the lengths that you need (and the number of speakers you're wiring-up if a surround system) and bear in mind that the cable prices we quote usually don't include the banana plugs that you'll see in the pictures, largely because you don't necessarily have to buy them: they make connecting, unplugging and reconnecting easier, but they don't make the sound any better. In fact, many people believe a bare wire connection to be sonically superior.

Best speaker cables 2019

1. AudioQuest Rocket 11

Best speaker cable - What Hi-Fi? Awards 2018.

Reasons to Buy
Flexible build
Clean, precise and fluid sound
Excellent compatibility
Reasons to Avoid
Nothing of note

The best thing this AudioQuest cable does is get out of the way and simply let you enjoy the music. There’s a perceptible improvement in the way systems perform when the Rocket 11 is plugged in, compared with rival speaker cables from Atlas and Chord Company. On top of that, the cables are physically flexible and labelled for ease of use.

At £12.50 per metre (before termination), it might sound a bit steep when you add up how many cables and the length you’ll need. But if you’ve put a lot of care into your hi-fi system, it’s well worth investing in good quality speaker cables that will optimise its performance.

Read the full review: AudioQuest Rocket 11

Best speaker cables 2019

2. Chord Company C-Screen

Very few budget systems that won't feel the benefit of the C-Screen's talents.

Reasons to Buy
Full-bodied, warm and expressive
Mirrors your system’s punch and drive
Reasons to Avoid
Some rivals offer more detail and space

Proof that you needn't spend a fortune to get excellent performance, the Chord Company C-Screen is a brilliant choice for budget systems thanks to its warm, cohesive delivery.

Read the full review: Chord Company C-Screen

Best speaker cables 2019

3. Atlas Equator 2.0 (2018)

This nicely built speaker cable is an easy and affordable way to boost your system’s performance.

Reasons to Buy
Clean, detailed delivery
Good weight and balance
Flexible build
Reasons to Avoid
Pricier rivals offer more drive

The increase in clarity and punch when using the Atlas Equator 2.0 over budget alternatives should be lauded, especially at this relatively affordable price. If you think your budget/midrange hi-fi system could do with a sonic spring clean, but not sure what needs upgrading (and don’t want to spend too much), plug these Atlas speaker cables in. You might find it’s just what your system needs.

Read the full review: Atlas Equator 2.0 (2018)

Best speaker cables 2019

4. Chord Company RumourX

Chord Company hits the mark again, with the RumourX delivering an excellent performance for the price.

Reasons to Buy
Helps produce a lively, cohesive sound
Design is easy to accommodate
Reasons to Avoid
Rivals offer more refinement

At £18/m, the Chord Company RumourX certainly isn't cheap (although it is possible to spend a good deal more on a speaker cable), but it more than justifies its price thanks to its crisp, clean and dynamic delivery. The Audioquest Rocket 22, below, delivers more in the way of sonic refinement and body to sound, but the Chord does enough in both regards to avoid complaint, while adding more in the way of punch and rhythmic drive. Both are excellent cables in their own way.

Read the full review: Chord Company RumourX

Best speaker cables 2019

5. AudioQuest Rocket 22

The Rocket 22 is a flexible, well-balanced cable that should work well in a wide range of systems.

Reasons to Buy
Refined and informative character
Aids an authoritative sound
Flexible configuration options
Reasons to Avoid
Tough competition

The Rocket 22 continues the fine work of its Award-winning sibling and, in a suitably talented set-up, the difference in price between the two can be justified by the improvement in scale, detail and authority. But do also consider the Chord Company RumourX, above, particularly if your system could do with releasing a little more punch and rhythmic drive.

Read the full review: AudioQuest Rocket 22