Well, I've been through the cable merry-go-round and like many have said, there was little difference sometimes, or there was significant [to me] difference. In this system, some cables I thought highly of initially eventually seemed to mess the music or balance thing up. If it were me, I would just get some Straight Wire and call it a day. In fact, I think I will.
It is hard to tell from written opinions anyway. It seems much I had read about were either outright falsehoods, or used in systems very different from mine. But the only wires I have ever had that never disappointed (I guess did not do anything abnormal to destroy the music) were Straight Wire. I replaced them anyway and have been swapping out cables since.
I had an Ayre CX-7 and an AX-7e that I sold only last week. I had tried a few XLR-cables between the two and got the best (i.e. best micro-dynamics, best bass, no grain) results with Virtual Dynamics Nite. Unfortunately, the new Nite Platinum series is well beyond the price limit you quote even at factory prices. I had luck in that I could pick up a factory refurbished ("R") pair from the previous series for $290. If this looks like an interesting alternative to you give them a call, they always have a number of "R" cables on offer (because they have a trade-in program when people upgrade).
The only cabling I've heard Ayre products run with is Transparent... it wasn't bad, but surely nothing to jump up and down about... so you might want to forget about Transparent wires. Dry and overpriced. ...but then, if you like that sort of thing...
Reterminate your Hero with Neutrik gold XLR's, part nos. NC3FX-B and NC3MX-B. If I remember correctly, the two white conductors will go to ground (pin 3) and the remaining two different colored ones (red and blue?) go to either pins 1 and 2, so long as you connect the same color to the same pin at each end. You can probably sell the RCA takeoffs to pay for the entire project.
I have an all Ayre system, and have tried many, many cables...all balance, because balanced is the ONLY way any Ayre component can do its work the best. Oddly, the worst cables are the Ayre and Cardas designs, the best being the Audioquest Sky series and the Anti-Cables. These 2 cables sound very, very similar using Ayre. The cost differential dictated my use of Anti-Cables. They transformed my system.
I second the anti-cables, they're the best by far of any cables costing 25x their price! The only downside, they take an enormously long time to break-in(interconnects 400-500hrs.)speaker cables 150-200 hrs. leaning more toward 200hrs. Most people don't allow for the break-in time, that's why you see them for sale a lot and the bad reviews some give on them.
Very interesting, I have been running Ayre amps for years with a lot of different front ends.
Over the years, I have tried a number of different cable brands and models.. Audio Quest, Discovery, MIT, Tara, XLO, etc.
I always ended up came back to the sound of the top end Cardas cables. They just sound "right" in my system.... until I tried some NBS cables. Crazy expensive but they are very fast, dead quiet and great balance top to bottom.
Everyone you ask about the efficacy of Cardas/Ayre cables with Ayre electronics will tell you that they were designed for each other. I am here to tell you that if you use Ayre components, (I have Ayre V1xe, K1xe, and C5xe), there are far better alternatives.
..and if you want the best power cords, make them from Oyaide C-046, P-046, and Accrolink P-4030. Your jaw will drop.
>>there are far better alternatives<<
If their speakers, cd player, tonearm, cartridge, and LISTENING PREFERENCES, were identical to yours that might be true.
Undoubtedly they are not.
Cables are system and listener dependent.
Yours are no different.
Thanks everyone - when u say Anti-Cables, since I am asking for interconnect help, u mean the Anti-ICs, right?
Yes, anti-cables interconnects. I parentheses that in my response.
For the record on an XLR, pin 1 is ground and pins 2 and 3 carry signals.
My experience completely mirrors Stringreen's. I auditioned the MX-Rs in my home on W/P8s with both Cardas GR or Transparent Ref XL or Ref MM cabling and came away thinking the MX-Rs were somewhat arid and not for my system at the time.
I later heard the MX-Rs powering some Vandersteen Quattros through Audioquest Sky cabling with astonishing results, causing me to rethink my initially tepid impression of both the MX-Rs and the Vandys.
Simply proving Audiofeil's point once again, but also seconding Stingreen's recommendation that you try Ayre equipment with cables beyond Cardas/Ayre with Audioquest and Anti-Cable topping the trial list.