16 April, 2017

Belden 9497, Part IV, 9497 vs 497 MkII

L: Japanese 497mkII; R: US 9497 (click pic to enlarge). pic courtesy of icefox.

Definitive Review: Belden 9497, Part IV
Talk Cable: USA Belden 9497 vs Japanese 497 MkII

See Part IPart II and Part III.

It is amazing how the humble US Belden 9497 has remained in my various systems for as long as I remember. I first wrote Part I in 2009, then Part II in 2012, and Part III in 2014. And now in 2017 it is time for the last one (ha!), as my dear friend Seng finally brought me some 497 MkII from Japan and I have used them for long enough to make some comments.

There are very few blogs/magazines that anally re-visit again and again what they deem worthwhile. For that I am proud. But the Belden deserves it, as many of us have never been able to find something better. Different, maybe; better, no.

Tested in my Kondo system.

Sonic Impressions

  • Air The US 9497 is airier in the high treble, more open.
  • Upper Midrange The Japanese 497 MkII has just a touch of hardness here, making the US 9497 a smoother listening.
  • Bass Similar.

  • The 9497 is the better cable, and cheaper!


  1. Hi DoctorJohn,

    I bought this cable from Japan and using with my Harbeth C7 and Clones Audio 25i amplifier. And, result is excellent! So really thank you, I got it thanks to your excellent comments.

    Did you compare belden 9497 with Western Electric 16GA or Duelund DCA16GA cables? Basically, these cables tinned copper cables, but I wonder which one is better than others..

    Thanks again!

    1. I don't know about the Duelund, but I definitely prefer the neutral Belden (for it is really that, no color, just music) to the vintage cables like WE.

      I have used the 9497 for YEARS, and I have never found anything that can completely trump it. Also, it works with basically everything, as versatile as they come.

    2. Thanks John! I think difference between these cables may be coming from outer material. Belden is made from plastic and WE and Duelund is made from cotton. Some say that cotton material sounds more natural than plastic.

      Anyway, belden is really great!

  2. I have been around hi fi for a long time. we can say I have been there and back. Current system is Oppo 105 with mod, Anticable RCA to the VanAlstine 300w hybrid power amp and speakers are from the fantastic Canadian company Tri Art Audio and I got the Prebbles Mini Tower. And I have been looking for speaker wire. Been using my old Chord signature, good but I knew I could get better. And a friend send me a link to Belden and off Ebay I bought a pair for 50$ with band plugs. And man o man. This is simply the best speaker wire I have come a cross. Open - details - everything one can ask for in a speaker wire and the price is a steal. LOVE it.

    1. I am glad! Is yours US 9497 or Japanese 497 MkII? I presume the link you mentioned pointed you to this blog?

      In any case, enjoy!

  3. In 2016 I found some khorns, gutted everything accept the K33s, connected aftermarket xovers with 9497 (not even keeping the lengths symmetric). The sound blew me away and I attributed it to everything accept the $1/ft black+orange left-wound Belden. It's actually unbelievable how much I took this stuff for granted. For a couple years I'm loving it, rolling amps and source, then a few months ago I decided it was time to replace the generic stranded 14awg speaker wire I've been doubling up. Figured I start with 22ft runs of the Belden, as it's cheap enough to throw away. On frist listed it was several dB quieter, transistor'y, small stage, no magic. I immediately bonded a 2nd Belden run and things got "better", but no match for the stranded hardware store spool wire I've been using. Mind you, I'm a believer in wire breakin but the performance gap seemed too much to close. I then tried something really stupid -- 6awg industrial cable for speaker wire. That brought tone and warmth in spades, but it seriously attenuated upper-mid to high freq information -- atmospheric cues not even audible. I bonded the Belden to the 6awg and this seemed to solve everything. That was my sound for the last 2 months.

    Exhausted by the speaker wire efforts, I moved on to the hookup wire. If belden could be that disappointing for speaker wire then perhaps it had no place as hookup. I spent hundreds of dollars on 12 and 16awg Duelund and rewired one speaker's xover (3 stage, in series). Again the atmospheric cues vanished, but only from the Duelund speaker. So I remove the 6awg from both speakers and wow -- huge upgrade all around. But the left speaker is now an entirely Belden chain, something I hated 2mo ago -- I guess I'm hearing the benefits of breakin? My other concern is I'm preferring that left speaker to the other one using Duelund hookup in the xover. So since yesterday I've been experimenting on the right speaker hookup -- Duelund 12 vs Duelund 16 vs Duelund 16*2(ie: 13awg) vs Belden, and so far the results reduce to: "mo belden, mo betta". More information and less color.

    I think the magic is Belden's choice of gauge+winding. It's hearing all the merits of silver minus the fatiguing signal overshoot. I should try winding the 16awg Duelund with a drill to see what that sounds like. I wonder how this would compare to litz wound cables from Solen and Supra. Need to recoup my sanity - will stop then reassess in a week.

  4. Hi Victor, what a candid assessment of your efforts! Indeed we ALL have presumptions that take us on the wrong road, but hopefully not for too long! It is sometimes hard to be honest with oneself, as there is the ego involved. Marvelous report, salut!

    The aftermarket crossovers are a lot brighter than the original ones, which may not suit more brighter wires.

    1. Just to give an update -- tightly winding 16awg Duelund made no difference. I guess that's not the secret sauce.

      I'm all Belden now. Using a 3piece-per-side-in-series aftermarket xover that requires 3 belden segments to reach the 15", 6 to reach the compression tweeter, and 7 to reach the compression mid. The first segment is 20ft from amp to speaker. I'll give these wires at least a month to break in and maybe I'll try doubling up that 1st segment to be 13awg.

      To help dial in the right "brightness" I EQ in Dirac before the signal reaches the DAC. Also the xovers have autoformers for dialing back over-efficient compression drivers.

    2. Marvelous and thx for the follow-up!

    3. On Friday I got a 2nd run of the Belden (correction: 26ft amp=>spkr). I wound the pair in a loose twist, stuffed the blacks into a 12awg Furez connector, did the same for the reds, filled it up with WBT solder, and the lows filled out w/o hurting the magic from the mids-on-up. If I were bi/tri-amping then these cables would be great on there own.

  5. Jeremy TanMarch 17, 2018

    Hi doctorJohn and Victor. This thread is an answer to my prayers!

    I’m a proud owner of Klipschorns now. Non alnico version. DoctorJohn you had advised me before thank you for that.

    Victor I’m not so technically inclined. But you’re suggesting it’s a good idea to rewire all my crossover wiring to the drivers with Belden 9497? The previous owner used different speaker wiring for each of the tweeter, midhorn and woofer. My Klipschorns also come with a bob Crites crossover; b&k soundtype AA.

    1. Read my many Klipsch posts. I DON'T like those aftermarket X'overs.

      Nothing wrong with the original crossovers and wires!

  6. I think it's good that you have the Crites. Caps and resisters don't hold spec forever so you got yourself an extension. Plus Crites closely resembles the klipsch design (hopefully with higher quality parts) so it should maintain much of the vintage appeal.

    Go nuts with the belden inside the speaker -- the only wire I didn't replace was that one monster cable run to the 15". It's tight in there and I'm not good enough with solder to do as good a job as I see klipsch did. I read the 15" woofer should not be changed because PWK worked extensively with an engineer to figure out how to dampen the suspension to make it flat to 400Hz (otherwise rolloff starts at 300). They figured out a dope that is applied to a portion of the woofer, and just it's application adds considerable time to your speaker's build (probably multiple coats).

    My 1991 khorns were fully stock and they sounded so bad that I refused to judge them critically. I spent more in aftermarket parts than the speaker cost, and the project took about a year (B&C took 6mo to build+ship mids from Italy). MDF elliptical horns from Fastlane (2" throated mid, 1" tweet), B&C mid&tweet, ALK extreme slope xover. The 3 part ALK is so large I couldn't figure out how to fit it all in the hat, so I anchored the first module to the inside hatch of the doghouse. I tried reusing the existing hatch but klipsch glued an xover board in there -- the glue is stronger than the plywood so it was a disaster after I took a chisel to it. After ruining one hatch I cut my own using 1/2" ply. I used Dayton plates and posts on the outside. Because the new mid horn starts from a 2" throat, it's shorter than the stock 1" horn, and the new tweeter horn also starts further back. As a result the mid/tweet voice coil offset was cut in half, and you heard a coherency improvement with impulse responses that span those drivers (finger snaps). I wanted more of that so I pulled the tweet off the grill, framed it with quarter round, that sat it on top. Because the front wall is only 14' wide, my fixed 45degree mids cross in front of me -- having the tweets outside at least gave me the option to point the tweeters out toward the listening position (or a little behind). It took a long time getting the height/depth/angle on the tweets right (I ordered small mirrors to help with that).

    The DIY audiophiles I do know are proud with what they accomplish for around $500, so $1-$2k would be really stretching it. I easily spent 6k excluding tools/materials and trial/error (like $300 in Duelund). Also, I EQ in the digital domain with Dirac software which is the only way all I can possibly flatten the response of this parade of parts. Basically I don't know anyone who'd be remotely interested in taking the path I did, but this is what is sounded like last year (solid state integrated with hardware store speaker wire)

    For anyone looking for instance gratification I would recommend pureaudioproject -- they score well on high efficiency and generate unlimited fast bass with the dual 15s.