What is your source component? CD? Vinyl rig?
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Mapleshade's double golden helix w/jumpers would be a great place to start, totaling under $300 direct from mapleshaderecords.com. I would urge you to try them as they deliver exactly what you are looking for and the price simply cannot be beat. They even come with a thirty day return policy.
I run them in my system after owning big dollar cables from Synergistic and Audioquest. The MapleShade cables truly deliver everything you are looking for.
OK, an unbiased opinion from someone who doesn't sell anything.
IMHO IC's and speaker wire should be neutral and allow the electronic's signal to pass undistorted. A question for you to answer to yourself. How do you 'know' the cables in your system are responsible for your systems shortcomings?
You are asking for warmth - which suggests to me that your present system is too cool for you and that you want to bend some part of the frequency response which (for you) embodies the warmth spectrum. IMHO if your cable adds sense of warmth it does so at the expense of other frequencies, like the upper mids and highs which will seem to be rolled.
You want cable which will provide for the impression of expansion of soundstage and air between the instruments. Often when this is achieved it is done by emphasizing the upper mids and highs and concurrently reduces the sense of warmth inherrent in your electronics.
You've got a bunch of individually good components. But, if you find the sound wanting seriously in the areas you outline, I'd be looking at component synergy, not wire. Now if you are talking about typically nominal acoustic differences I'd be trying to find the most neutral cables available and I wouldn't buy anything until I heard it in my system.
Without mentioning any brands I would have to caution you about spending that kind of money on speaker cable. I think the money can be better spent either elsewhere in your system or by dropping $500 on some really good wire and giving the rest to charity. I don't really see the point of dropping that kind of dough on wire.
the purpose of listening to music on a stereo system is to enjoy it, not necessarily achieve neutrality. some people don't want neutrality. they mant some color, like puttting ketchup on your stake or three teaspoons of sugar in a cup of black coffee.
it is best to listen to a bunch of brands and then gradually determine those attributes of sound which are more important and also determine what aspects of sound are less important or unimportant.
there is no substitute for listening. try to find a dealer or the cable company to borrow speaker cable.
your ears are unique. you can't rely on another person's perception.
Save some dough. Try the LAT international top end speaker cables. An 8 foot pair new will set you back about $450 bucks. I have them (the older version not the latest) in my reference system. They are outstanding.
Cables definitely sound different to me. However, given the performance I get from the LAT silver/copper hybrid cable - warm, silk smooth, holographic - I don't see much reason to spend oodles of money on higher end cables. Have I heard all of them? No. Are they the best cables out there? Who knows. But do they sound fantastic to a very critical listener who hates "digital" sound. Absolutely
I would have to agree with others on this thread that it sounds more like a component mismatch than a cable issue.
Case in point: I bought a highly rated integrated amp that was beautiful, powerful, and highly transparent sounding.
I wanted to love it but the sound was just too dry and a little bright for my taste. I tried to solve this problem with cables but after throwing a lot of money into cables I realized it just wasn't working.
I hated to see it go but I needed what was right to my ears. Good luck with this tough decision.
Having tried different speaker cables within my system, I will have to say that there never was a difference with the soundstage and air around the insturments. And since those are two things that I demand and matched my amps to my pre for, I too suggest you demo some other preamps.
What is your source component? When I want to add warmth, air and a 3-D soundstage, the source would typically be one of the first places I look. If the air, warmth and soundstage aren't adequately produced by the source, no amount of money spent on amplification, speakers or wires is every going to help you overcome the deficiency.
The problem with any recommendation is generally people are going to recommend what they use... but they have no idea what you gear sounds like, or even more important, what you like.
If Rives did your room, I guess you want to buy the best cable you can afford. Everything from mapleshade is junk, so you can cross them off the list. There are lots of cheap cables that people will tout as giant-killers, but they end up only killing your desire to ever use your system again.
My suggestion (which is just as useless as all the others, since I have never heard your system) would be to try Purist Venustus. I have heard the Cary gear and found it to be soft and pudgy around the midrange, and generally lacking in detail. I think the Purist will prevent anymore loss in these areas. They tend to work well where the Cary does not, so it might be a good balance.
There are people from whom you can borrow/audition cables, which is the easiest way to know how it will sound in your room.
Thanks guys. Here's what I did: I bought audience Au24 speaker cable which defenitely changed the sound...less lush, but more accurate and slightly less forward. I bought cardas golden cross interconnects for my CD player, which helped alot, and shunyata hydra 8 power conditioning which helped marginally (over Richard Gray), but still not exactly there yet. Now I have taken the advice of many to adress system synergy, especially my CD player, and am waiting on delivery of a MBL 1531 player. Hopefully this will be it for a while! Thanks for the help.
Here is a review of some Empirical Design cables I ran up against the Au-24. You might be interested in how they performed in my system versus the Audience wires. A great value and utterly fantastic sound.
Here is the link: