New Scientist - strange but true (I'm going to reproduce this bit completely since I think the host page is temporary):
AT THE UK's annual hi-fi show, held recently in two hotels at London's Heathrow airport, several exhibitors were selling exotic cables to connect amplifiers to loudspeakers. The price of these cables was staggering. A 6-metre length of oxygen-free copper could cost as much as £30,000 - and no, those four zeros are not a misprint.
We cannot comment on whether these cables really do make music sound better, because none of the exhibitors offered a controlled blind test - switching the same music between cheap and expensive cables without the listener knowing which was which.
But now that the show is over, we can reveal a secret.
One of the most popular demonstrations at the show was staged by British company Quad, to mark 50 years of making its world-famous hi-fi equipment. Recording engineer Tony Faulkner demonstrated Quad's latest loudspeakers. He explained how he used them to monitor the sound while making a recording of Saint-Saëns's complete works for piano and orchestra, which recently won the coveted Record of the Year award from Gramophone magazine.
As hi-fi buffs enthused over the sound, we spotted that the speakers were connected by some orange wires that looked strangely familiar.
'Yes, they would look familiar if you have a garden', Faulkner told us. 'Before the show opened we went over the road to the DIY superstore and bought one of those £20 extension leads that Black & Decker sells for electric hedge-cutters. They are made from good, thick copper wire, look nice and sound good to me. The show's been running for three days and no one in the audience has noticed'.