Since nobody's responded yet I'll chime in and say that the shotgun biwire Satoris I've been running for the past 10 years exhibit the qualities you're looking for as well. Perhaps you could buy Satoris and save some $$$? Then again, if you can afford the Holograms go for it -- I've not yet heard anyone prefer Satoris over Holograms. Either way, and especially since you don't seem to have a dealer nearby, I'd buy used so you can just sell the cables you don't like at little or maybe even no loss. Highly doubt you'll go wrong with either the Satoris or Holograms given what you're looking for though. Best of luck.
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Hi Scott, welcome to Audiogon. I would say that your assessment of Acoustic Zen Hologram II is pretty accurate. I have owned the Satori Shotgun, Hologram II, and most recently the Double Barrel. I find they are pretty well balanced, a bit on the warmer side, yet not as warm as cables from companies like Cardas. They throw a nice, deep 3 dimensional sound stage too, which I like. If you prefer similar tonal qualities with a more immediate (forward) presentation, the Analysis Plus Crystal Solo Oval 8 may be more your style.
I only recently switched to different speaker cables when I switched from a SS amp to a tube amp. I find the Acoustic Zen a bit too warm with this tube amp.
Do you want to save yourself $650 for a 2m pair of cables that uses the EXACT same internal wires (6N Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) copper supplied by Furukawa Electric of Japan) as Acoustic Zen and sounds superior to the Hologram?
Check out Audio Sensibility cables
One difference between the Audio Sensibility cables and Acoustic Zen is the use of larger 14awg conductors in the AS cables compared to multiple strands of individually insulated smaller wires in the AZ cables. There are some who believe 14awg is too large for reasons related to skin-effect, although the Anti-Cables guy seems to do ok using 14awg wire.
My experience owning the Double Barrel was good with high powered amplification into moderate sensitivity speakers but I thought I detected a little something in the upper mid to high frequencies that came off as very slightly "rough" in direct comparison to the quite similar designed Harmonic Technology line (Pro 9+ and Pro 9 Ref) so I use the HT cables. Maybe this is related to the use of DupontÂ TeflonÂ dielectric in the Double Barrel cables, compared to foamed PE insulation in the HT cables (although the new HT Pro 9 Ref do use some TeflonÂ). The difference was small and I could live with either of the cables.
I suspect the Hologram II will sound good also as they follow the same prescription of multiple, individually insulated, small gauge wires, and the 8awg aggregate size should be plenty large.
In the price range, I would also consider HT Pro 9+ or Ref, or Pro 11+ as well as purchasing bulk Neotech NES-3002 cable and terminating them myself. All of these use OCC wire.
My advice would be to consider going a different route. You're willing to spend up to $1000 for a pair of cables, but that's almost the cost of one of the components in your system. That's not a very good deal. Not only that, you really don't know if your current cables are the source of your problem. On top of all that, it looks like you won't be trying the cables in your system before you buy them. It's your money to do as you wish, but if you are looking to fail, this is exactly how to do it.
Before you start spending on cables in this price point, I would suggest you look at upgrading active components first. They make a much bigger difference. Its always better to deal with a component that's the source of the problem as opposed to trying to mask it with cables.
"My experience owning the Double Barrel was good with high powered amplification into moderate sensitivity speakers but I thought I detected a little something in the upper mid to high frequencies that came off as very slightly "rough" in direct comparison to the quite similar designed Harmonic Technology line (Pro 9+ and Pro 9 Ref) so I use the HT cables. Maybe this is related to the use of DupontÂ TeflonÂ dielectric in the Double Barrel cables, compared to foamed PE insulation in the HT cables (although the new HT Pro 9 Ref do use some TeflonÂ). The difference was small and I could live with either of the cables."
The roughness that you are talking about is almost certainly due to the cables being copper. You probably have a fairly revealing system because most people don't pick up on that (or they do and just don't know its the cables). Overall, solid core seems to deal with this better than stranded, but almost every copper cable I've tried has this trait in some form. The better Audioquest and Tara cables are the only ones that I have come across that don't have that roughness. I haven't tried every cable, so its likely there may be others as well.
Welcome to Audiogon, Scott. You've been fortunate to receive responses from several of our most experienced and credible members, IMO.
Given, however, that cable performance tends to be highly system dependent, and that much of the experience cited above was most likely with systems that were very different from your own (and at very different price points), my instinct is to particularly second the comments in the first part of ZD542's post.
What I would suggest is that before investing many hundreds of dollars in a different pair of cables you try to gain a sense of how much difference cables might make with respect to the sonic issue you are trying to address by temporarily trying any cables you can get your hands on cheaply. Perhaps even Home Depot wires.
I suspect that assessing how much and what kind of difference that makes would give you a better feel for the likelihood that a cable upgrade would be an effective way of addressing the sonic issue you described, as opposed to the possibility that the primary contributor to the problem is elsewhere.
I agree with Almarg that you try cables that are inexpensive to see if you can address your issue (forwardness). The Audio Sensiblity cables I find interesting, but they are in Canada which always means shipping back and forth through Customs. This can easily turn into added expense and hassle. I know from experience.
I can recommend JW Audio Cryo Nova as an inexpensive quality cable. They are a cryoed cable, and solid core. You have 30 days to try them in your system and can return them if not to your liking.
I appreciate all of your feedback. In fact, independently of your responses, I started thinking about my system components more and realizing that I should be focusing on upgrading there. My guess is that the Exposure is too "analytical" for my tastes and that a slightly warmer sounding solid state with a more power would be more to my liking (and drive the KEFs better). I'll probably post a question on the amp/preamp forum to get some more of your input.
Oh, and I did order a pair of Clear Day cables to save some money and get some idea of how much cables affect the sound.
Thanks again for your time in answering a newbie's questions!
You might want to check out Audio Art speaker cable. The more expensive model is SC-5E; I use the less expensive
SC-5 which sound good to very good. However, the Clear Day's single silver speaker cable is better than the AA SC-5.
There are many cables out there, and I know it can be confusing and frustrating to find the right fit of cable One last possibility is the StraightWire's Rhapsody II speaker cable. An 8ft single wire pair should about cost $285.00 on sale from factory direct The cable has received limited but respectable reviews on the audioreview.com blog.