Of course cables make a difference and I don't think it's just a matter of system matching, i.e., choosing the right seasoning, if you will, for the rest of the components. Some wire is just better than other wire. And of course cables are just one component of a SYSTEM, so almost everything matters in the end.
Last spring and summer, I went through a period I described as cablemania, where I auditioned an array of speaker cables and interconnects. I originally used Auditorium 23 speaker cables and interconnects, which were optimally matched to my Shindo amp and preamp. When I moved on from Shindo to a Crayon CFA 1.2 integrated and Crayon phono stage, I wanted to try other cables. The speakers I own are Athenas with all current upgrades. So I contacted Lou and Alex at WyWires and the Cable Company and auditioned, at the same time, speaker cables and interconnects from Audience (top of the line Au24 SE cables), WyWires (Platinum), and High Fidelity cables (CT-1E). I also auditioned Lou's own speaker cables where he has specified the design and Alex at WyWires manufactures them. And I continued to listen to my Auditorium 23 cables.
Listening to cables is work. You have to really devote yourself in a concentrated time period to a lot of repetitive listening and do a lot of changing out. If you do this, I promise you will start to get a bead on the sonic signature of each cable.
None of the cables I auditioned were "bad." The Auditorium 23 were probably a mismatch to my current components and were the easiest to eliminate. I could have lived with any of the other combos, but there were very significant differences. I'm happy to go into those differences if anyone is curious but I'll just tell you my final verdict.
For speaker cables, nothing beat Lou's own design. It just lets more music through -- a fatter pipe, if you will. What surprised me was that Lou's speaker cable bested every other cable even when the speaker cable of company X was matched with the interconnect of company X. Maybe it should not have surprised me in light of the fact that Lou has matched these cables to the internal wiring of his speakers. After listening to all of these different speaker cables, I've come to the conclusion that Lou's cable is really good value for the money.
For interconnects, I originally settled on Rick Schultz's High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Enhanced interconnects. But the WyWires Platinum that I auditioned was very good and it got me to wondering how the WyWires Gold would sound. So I auditioned that and compared it to the High Fidelity Cables IC. Both were excellent and I appreciated the different qualities they brought to the system. So I ended up with one IC from High Fidelity and one from WyWires (the Gold with the Bybee Purifiers). I only need two ICs in my system -- one for digital and one for analogue. With two interconnects, I occasionally switch them around so that I get four different presentations (two for digital and two for analogue). FWIW, WyWires apparently no longer makes the Gold series; it was replaced by the Diamond last October.