Understand what makes a good cable, and understand which is the best cable for the job.
The manufacturers include cables with their equipment, but I suggest using these cables only temporarily until you can pick up something of decent quality. I usually recommend the RadioShack Gold Series cables as a good starting point, but you can work you way up to higher-quality cables from there. Before you go out and purchase these cables, though, you need to know what types of cables you require, what they're called, and exactly what they are used for. I'll be describing these cables based on the type of connector used and the actual design of the cable itself.
You'll notice that every cable shown in this section is from Better Cables (http://www.bettercables.com). Although you might choose to go with a lower-end cable, such as ones from RadioShack, I can't recommend Better Cables strongly enough. That company offers amazing cables, at very fair prices, and they are the only kinds of cables I buy for my own system at home.
The most commonly used cables are analog audio cables, with RCA connectors on each end. These are the cables normally used to connect a tape deck, turntable, CD player, etc., to your receiver. They usually are color-coded with a red connector for the right channel and a white connector for the left channel (see Figure 7-1). There are also some multichannel sources which have an analog audio connection for each channel: left, right, ...