A note on cables. One of the best (and cheapest!) speaker cables you can get is plain telephone wire. This is because it is solid core, not braided. If you can afford about $2/foot, there's a special solid core speaker cable which is probably better than anything you can find at any price. They also make patch cables which are similar but smaller. See http://www.reson.ch/home/kabel/kabel.html
for more information (in German).
Believe it or not, this principle also extends to the power cords. A good amplifier will sound better (more "punch") if it's power cable is solid core. Obviously the transient response of a solid core cable is better than a braided cable, which also tells you why the signal cables should be solid core too. Note that such power cables are often illegal since the solid core cable can be dangerous (break, short-circuit, fire) if flexed enough. The power cables on stereo equipment generally don't move around a lot, so the risk is more theoretical than real as long as you don't abuse them.